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How are sun burns treated ?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
Answered : 1579 Questions
My 6 year old daughter had an outdoor party at school on Monday (two days ago). I applied sunscreen in the morning, but they did not allow her to reapply before she went outside. She came home with sunburned cheeks and arms. (she was wearing a swim shirt with SPF that covered her shoulders ) This morning the burn on her arms looks patchy and red, more like a rash than a sunburn. Her cheeks are still splotchy at times. One of the parents at school told her it was a virus that her son had last week. I am wondering whether it is some sort of allergic reaction to the sun exposure. Any thoughts? Thank you.
Posted Fri, 20 Apr 2012 in Sun Burn
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 52 minutes later
Thanks for posting your query. Since the rash appeared after your daughter was in the sun wearing a swimshirt, it looks more like a sunburn rather than any viral infection.

The viral illness which you are thinking of if Fifth’s disease which is often found in children and which produces a distinctive red rash on the face that makes a child appear to have a "slapped cheek." The rash then spreads to the trunk, arms, and legs. But the rash is often preceded by low-grade fever, headache, and mild cold-like symptoms (a stuffy or runny nose). Hence it is less likely to be viral infection if your child is not having these symptoms.

For sunburn, apply aloe or calamine lotion on the rash as it will help in soothing the skin. Make sure not to apply butter, vaseline or oil to any burn. If your daughter is having any pain, you can give children's acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease the pain after consulting her doctor. If there are any blisters, then do not pop them as blisters form to protect your child's underlying skin, and breaking them open can lead to infection.

With these treatments, she should be fine in 2-3 days.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you good health.

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