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Sunburns can be surprisingly serious.

While enjoying the warm sun at outdoor picnics, glorious trips to the beach, or even playing on the backyard swing set, parents do not anticipate that their child will need medical attention for a sunburn. However, burns can happen quickly with children. We all know that when you get a sunburn, your skin turns red and hurts. If the sunburn is severe, you can develop swelling and blisters. You may have chills, nausea, headaches and feel weak. If your child experiences any of these symptoms, it is important to visit a burn care specialist to assess the burn.

When your child is treated at Shriners Children’s you know the outcome is in the hands of the medical leaders in burn care. Our compassionate and skilled physicians and nurses will walk you through every step of the healing process with the most innovative burn care treatments available.

Shriners Children's Burn Care Accreditation

Three Shriners Children's locations providing burn care are accredited by the American Burn Association (ABA) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS) as verified pediatric burn centers.

We have a strong connection to and history with the ABA. All of the Shriners Children's burn care chiefs of staff at the above locations have been presidents of the ABA. These distinctions display the depth of the burn care support services we provide, as well as the vast amounts of research we lead on behalf of our patients and children around the world who’ve been burned.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Treatment of Sunburns

Sunburn injuries are painful and can be scary if serious symptoms occur.

If your child receives a sunburn, try these remedies:

  • Apply cool compresses to your child’s skin or suggest a cool bath to soothe the burn.
  • To take the sting out of the sunburn, gently rub on a cream or gel containing ingredients such as aloe. Try refrigerating the cream first to make it feel even better on your child’s sunburned skin.
  • Use an over the counter pain reliever with acetaminophen. Be sure to use the proper dose for your child’s age and weight.
  • Make sure you child stays hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Avoid the sun until the sunburn heals.

Never put ice on a burn, including a sunburn. If symptoms are severe, seek medical attention from a healthcare facility.

Prevention is Key to Avoiding Serious Sunburns

While enjoying the warm sun, summer barbecues, campfires and fireworks, remember burn prevention is important all year round. Burns can happen quickly with children. The following tips can help prevent these burn-related injuries in children. In addition to being painful, serious sunburns can increase a person’s risk for skin cancer later in life. The following tips can help minimize your child’s risk of sunburn.

  • Keep infants less than 6 months old out of direct sun; dress them in a hat and lightweight clothing that protects the arms and legs. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes, when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to small areas, such as the face and the back of the hands.
  • For children and infants older than 6 months, liberally apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater to all exposed areas before going outside. Dress them in protective clothing that includes a hat and sunglasses.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, or more often if your child is playing in water or sweating.
  • Encourage frequent breaks from the sun in shaded areas, especially when the sun is the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

If your child is sunburned, apply cool compresses for 10-15 minutes at a time. Use an over the counter pain reliever with acetaminophen and make sure your child is well hydrated. Contact your health care provider for a fever, blisters, sunburn in an infant, eye pain, dizziness or signs of dehydration.

If there is a need to be met, Shriners Children's staff step forward. I can pick up the phone and call anyone in the hospital and they will want to help. Our patients always come first and we make sure they have everything they need.
Mary, Boston
patient painting during craft class

Child Life Specialists Help Prepare Children for the Medical Experience

With their knowledge, training and understanding of child development, our teams work with your child – often through play – to help them feel more comfortable, calm and confident while visiting Shriners Children’s for procedures, surgeries and hospital stays.

Innovative Treatments

View All Related Treatments

Burn Care

Shriners Children’s treats all levels and types of burns, including chemical burns, electrical burns and flame burns. Our pediatric burn care treatment plans are personalized and can include wound care, scar management and reconstruction.

Plastic Surgery

Shriners Children’s experienced pediatric plastic surgeons use reconstructive plastic surgery techniques to bring hope and healing to families dealing with differences involving the face, jaw, eyelids, ears, breasts or skin.

Reconstructive Surgery

Shriners Children’s provides innovative, personalized care for children with reconstructive needs.

Inpatient Rehabilitation Following Burn Injury

Shriners Children's inpatient rehabilitation advances healing and mobility following a burn injury

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.