Sunburn in Babies – Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Baby sunburn skin

Is your baby the outdoorsy type? Then sunburns must be common for her. Learn about the symptoms, treatment, and the preventive measures that can be taken to avoid sunburn in children.


What is Sunburn?

Sunburn is a condition in which the skin, when overexposed to the Ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB rays), becomes red or reddish in colour, warm, feels tender and sore. In few days time, the skin in the sunburnt area becomes flaky and peels off.


What Are the Signs of Baby Sunburn?

After a day out in the sun, look out for the following signs in your baby.

  • Considerable burns
  • Skin blisters
  • 3-degree fever or more
  • Severe headaches
  • Excess sweat
  • Dizzy and lightheadedness
  • Fainting
  • Cranky baby
  • Dehydration
  • Pus in the blisters/sores
  • Vomiting

Should You Be Worried about Babies Skin Damage from the Sun?

Babies before the age of 6 months are at a high risk of skin damage when exposed to the sun. During infancy, the melanin hasn’t yet developed. Therefore exposure to direct sunlight during infancy ups the risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.

How to Treat and Soothe Infant Sunburn?

Here are a number of ways to treat and give your baby sunburn relief.

  • If your baby is less than 6 months of age, breastfeed more than usual. However, in case of older kids, you can give her lots of water or fresh fruit juice to drink.
  • Keep a cool wet cotton cloth on the affected area for some time. Repeat the same after sometime again.
  • You can also apply some cucumber pieces or grated cucumber on the affected area.
  • Applying aloe vera can also help.
  • Give her a cool bath. However, do not rub your baby’s skin. Instead just pat dry.
  • Make her wear only cotton and loose fitting clothes.
  • Keep your baby away from the sun as much as possible, at least until the time her skin is not properly healed.

Things You Should Avoid to Do with Sunburned Baby

Certain things should be avoided in case you have a sunburned baby at hand. Here is a list of “not to do” things.

  • Avoid popping the blisters. Doing so could be painful and could cause a sore on the affected area.
  • Do not scratch or peel the skin when it starts to heal. Let the skin peel off naturally.
  • Avoid using any petroleum-based or alcohol-based products on the affected area.
  • Avoid all types of sprays and ointments on the skin, particularly on the affected part.

Natural Soothers for Sunburned Skin of Baby

There are many natural sunburn relief for babies some of which are listed below.

1. Tea

The tannins and antioxidants in freshly brewed green and black tea absorb the heat caused by sunburn.

How to apply it

  • Let the brewed tea cool down to room temperature.
  • Once it cools down, take a cotton washcloth or a small ball of cotton and apply it to the affected areas. Then rinse the affected area with cool water. You can also apply a tea bag on the affected area or pour some freshly brewed tea into the cool bath water before taking a bath with it.

2. Oatmeal

Oats are rich in antioxidants and are said to have anti-inflammatory properties.

How to apply it

  • Add finely ground oatmeal to the bath water and let your baby sit in it for some time.
  • Then rinse her with cool water and pat dry.
  • You can also make a paste of finely ground oatmeal, honey, and milk and apply to the affected area. After some time, rinse it off with cool water.

3. Lavender and Coconut oil

Coconut oil which has microbial properties heals the sunburn and the lauric acid in it helps cell growth. Lavender oil, on the other hand, has a soothing effect on the skin.

How to apply it

  • Using a cotton ball, apply the mix to the affected area. You can also add it to your baby’s bath water.

4. Honey

It can work like an antibiotic and speed up the healing process.

How to apply it

  • Using a wet cotton ball, apply honey to the affected areas.
  • Honey can also be mixed with other household ingredients like oatmeal or baking soda and applied to the sunburn.

5. Milk

The proteins in the milk soothe the burn and moisturize the skin.

Milk in a bowl

How to apply it

  • Mix one cup milk with 3 parts cool water.
  • Put a cotton cloth in it and then squeeze the cloth.
  • Then apply the cold wet towel on the affected area (you can also add ice but for small children, it is best avoided).

6. Tomato

Tomatoes are great antioxidants and help in removing dead skin cells and fight cell damage.

How to apply it

  • Make a puree of the tomatoes.
  • Then using a clean towel, apply the tomato juice to the affected area.

7. Corn flour

It is an age-old remedy for all types of skin rash.

How to apply it

  • Make a paste of corn flour using water.
  • Apply it on all the affected areas and rinse it off after some time.
  • In case of a sunburnt back, sprinkle some corn flour on the area when the skin is damp and apply it even using a sponge or a powder puff.

8. Aloe Vera

The cooling effect of the Aloe Vera pulp gives relief from the pain and also heals the burn.

How to apply it

  • Squeeze out the pulp of the aloe vera.
  • Then apply the pulp on the affected area.

9. Potato

Like aloe vera and cucumber, potatoes too have a cooling effect on the skin.

How to apply it

  • Grate a potato and apply on the sunburn.

10. Cucumber

The antioxidant and analgesic component of the cucumber is a quick healer. So, you can use cucumber to treat sunburn.

How to apply it

  • Slice up or grate a chilled cucumber.
  • Apply it to the affected area.
    Mom puts sunscreen on her baby

How Can You Prevent Sunburn in Infants?

Sunburn in infants should be avoided in every way possible. Some of the measures to prevent sunburn in newborns are –

  • There should be removable mesh window shields to avoid direct sunlight into the room.
  • Walks with your infants should be taken either early in the morning before the sun is high up or just before sunset or after sunset.
  • Your baby’s hands and legs should be covered with light cotton clothes.
  • A wide-brimmed hat can do wonders in protecting the face of your child from the sun.
  • In case of babies above 6 months of age, you can apply sunburn cream for babies just 30 minutes before going out.
  • As much as possible make her play in a shaded area in between 10 AM to 4 PM.
  • Make sure your child wears UV protected sunglasses when out in the sun.

When to Consult a Doctor?

A newborn with sunburn can be agonizing for parents. Therefore a cream to prevent sunburn in babies is the best way to avoid it. However, sunburn on the baby’s face is the most common of all since the face is the portion of a baby’s body which is mostly exposed to the sun.

Look out for these symptoms in case your baby has a sunburn.

  • Blisters on the body.
  • Your baby has a high fever, headache, pain, dehydration, along with nausea and chills.
  • The blisters or sore caused by the sunburn have pus in them indicating an infection.

A baby having sunburn on the face is not life-threatening. However, the repercussions that a child has to face due to it can be painful and agonizing. Therefore, it is best avoided.