A Pediatrician’s Tips for Sunburn Remedies

Summer may be coming to a close, but in Southern California, sunburns can be a year-round issue in our sunny climate. Even though trips to the beach and afternoons spent at the pool have given way to soccer practice and school playgrounds, sun safety is as important as ever.

sunburn remedies
Dr. Daniel Mackey, a CHOC Children’s pediatrician

Sunscreen Safety Reminders

  • Everyone should wear sunscreen whenever they’re outdoors, no matter what season we’re in or what the temperature is. Since babies under six months old have skin that is especially susceptible to sun damage, they should be kept out of the sun whenever possible.
  • Apply sunscreen every two hours that has SPF 30 or higher. Reapply more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses for extra protection.
  • Double-check your family’s medications, since some may cause an increased sensitivity to sunlight.

But what happens when you do your best to protect yourself and your family from the sun, but sunburn still happens? We spoke to Dr. Daniel Mackey, a CHOC Children’s pediatrician, for a physician’s tips for sunburn remedies.

  • Use ibuprofen as needed for pain for the first few days after an especially uncomfortable sunburn.
  • A cold compress can help cool the skin. Either a damp cloth with cool water, or taking a cool shower or bath can work for this.
  • To help relieve the sting sunburn can leave behind; apply a 0.5 percent or 1 percent hydrocortisone cream to the damaged skin.
  • Aloe vera gel, or a product containing aloe vera, can help with the skin healing.
  • Drink extra fluids during recovery. On a typical day, kids up to age 8 should drink the number of 8 oz. cups of water equal to their age. For example, a five-year-old should drink five 8-oz. glasses of water every day.
  • Avoid further sun exposure while the skin is healing.

If the pain is getting worse or the skin is becoming more red or tender in the days following a sunburn, it is best to seek medical care, as your child might be experiencing an infection. Find a provider near you.

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Choosing the Right Pediatrician for your Child

During open enrollment, parents may evaluate their family’s healthcare plan, which can mean searching for new doctors and specialists for their children. Choosing your child’s primary care doctor is important. We spoke to Dr. Dan Mackey, a CHOC Children’s pediatrician, who offered tips to help parents make the right decision for their child.

Importance of a Pediatrician

It’s important for children to see a pediatrician, rather than a family practitioner who may treat older members of the family. A pediatrician is specially trained to care for infants, children and teens.   A pediatrician has graduated from medical school and completed a three-year residency program in pediatrics.  A board-certified pediatrician has passed rigorous exams administered by the American Board of Pediatrics.

Kids are not “little adults.” Different ages can present different illnesses and behavioral problems, which pediatricians are trained to recognize, diagnose and treat. Teens need pediatric care, too. Their bodies are still young and growing, their brains are still developing, and they are not yet ready for adult care, says Mackey.

A pediatrician’s office is generally designed with kids in mind, with waiting areas and exam rooms geared toward making children feel comfortable and engaged. Pediatricians’ office schedules are usually created to accommodate same-day and sick appointments.

In addition to choosing a pediatrician who is in-network with the family’s insurance plan, parents want to make sure the pediatrician is aligned with good pediatric subspecialists and their local children’s hospital.  Other factors to consider include:

  • Bedside manner
  • Interaction with office staff
  • Office hours and ease of scheduling an appointment
  • Medical records: paper or electronic
  • Method of communication with doctor: many offices offer phone, email and an online patient portal

Part of the Family

Having an open dialogue with your child’s pediatrician is important.  Parents shouldn’t shy away from asking questions.

“Being available for questions is important to families,” says Mackey. “A lot of teaching and education goes on over the years as the child grows up. It starts with educating the parent about nursing and nutrition, and continues with discussions about child safety, including issues like discipline and behavior.”

In addition to being a trusted resource on parenting, your child’s pediatrician is someone with whom you will spend a lot of time as your children grow up.

“Hopefully the relationship the family has with the pediatrician becomes a very long and pleasant one that lasts many years,” says Mackey. “Eventually, the pediatrician almost becomes part of the family, and a trusted member to turn to for help and advice. The best part of the job is getting to watch the child grow up.”

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