Sunburns: Tips for Moms to Prevent and Treat

Get the tips you need to be able to prevent and treat sunburns for you and your kids this summer.

Family at the beach

It is summer in the northern hemisphere and that means time for fun in the sun! But of course with fun in the sun comes the desire to prevent sunburns. When we fail at that prevention, we want ideas on how to heal and soothe that sunburn fast.

Preventing Sunburns

Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is so true in so many aspects of life, but especially when it comes to a sunburn! Beyond the long-term complications a single sunburn can cause in life, it just hurts! Here are some ideas for preventing getting burnt.

  • Avoid Peak Hours. This is the number one piece of advice offered by experts when you seek knowledge on how to prevent a sunburn. Peak hours vary based on where you live, but it is generally said between 10 AM-4 PM. So, basically during the day when you would want to be outside doing stuff. You can check your weather app on your phone to see when the UV will be at its highest each day.
  • Find and Create Shade. Since the reality of life is that if we are out in the sun doing stuff, we are often out during peak hours, we need to move on to other ideas. One is to be in the shade. Seek out shade when you are outside. If you are going somewhere that does not have shade easily accessible, bring shade with you. You can use a pop-up shade at the beach or an umbrella at the soccer game. 
  • Wear Clothes that Protect. If you are at the beach, go for the rash guard. I live at a high altitude. Studies (and common sense) have found that being at higher altitudes leads to getting a sunburn much faster than those at lower altitudes. If we are outside at the pool or at one of our mountain lakes, we wear rash guards. Sometimes we swim later in the day, and if it is out of those peak hours, we will do a normal swimming suit. I even do rash guards if we are at home in the sprinklers. Any time a child is being cooled off by the water and is in the sun, I think a rash guard is a good idea because they don’t realize that their skin is burning. One reader shared a product she has found called Rit Sun Guard Laundry Treatment. You use this in your laundry and it makes your clothes about 30 SPF. This same reader also likes Sun Protective Baby Sun Suit by NoZone. They even make one that is hooded.
  • Wear Sun Hats. Sun hats are great for protecting the face and shoulder area. We always do sun hats at the beach. We also do them if we are at a place that is outside that will offer little to no shade. 
  • Eat Certain Foods. One reader said taking Vitamin D has helped her skin burn less easily. There is research that suggests certain foods can essentially boost your natural ability to fight off sunscreen. These foods include leafy vegetables, carrots, red peppers, mango, melons, apricots, and tomatoes. 
  • Use Sunscreen. If we are playing at home and not in the water, I don’t do sunscreen if the child can move himself into the shade. I find kids are smart and seek the shade when they are hot. I like a little sun exposure–I don’t think it is all evil. If, however, we are somewhere that we can’t control when we are in the shade and when we aren’t, we do sunscreen. We also do sunscreen when we are at the pool or the beach. A big question becomes, which sunscreen to use? I love the convenience of the sprays, but many people say those don’t work like a lotion does. What about those with sensitive skin? Last summer, for the first time in my life, I broke out into hives as a reaction to a sunscreen made for little children. Some of you readers shared similar stories of either you or your child. Here are some of the best rated sunscreens on Amazon:
    ThinkBaby (this is their best seller)
    thinksport SPF 50 Plus Sunscreen
    EltaMD SPF 30 Plus UV Facial Sunscreen

    Here are some mentioned by you readers as you liking:
    Neutrogena Baby Stick
    Coppertone Oil Free Sunscreen Lotion
    Coppertone Sensitive Skin Lotion SPF 50 Sunscreen
    Coppertone WaterBabies Pure&Simple
    Badger All Natural Sunscreen

    We use the Coppertone WaterBabies Pure&Simple for babies and Coppertone Sport High Performance Continuous Spray for grown ups. I use lotion on faces rather than sticks because I often miss spots with the sticks and the kids end up with burn spots on their faces. I like these products just fine–I have had no problems with them. I am not in love with them–I wouldn’t be against trying other stuff. But a great convenience of these is that they are sold in all of my local stores, and after my bad experience with an all-natural sunscreen that caused me to break out into hikes, I am hesitant to spend money on something that might do that. 

Preventing Sunburns for Babies

Having a spring or summer baby means that you have summer with a baby who can’t use sunscreen. This is a challenge for sure! I do sun hats, light blankets, long pants, and long sleeves. You can buy long-sleeved swim suits (like this Carter’s Baby-Girls Newborn Girl Polka Dot Rash Guard Set). I also do lots of shade-sitting. Bottom line, yes, it can be annoying and inconvenient. But it is one summer. All of my babies have landed so that this has been a problem, so four of my summers have been this way. And I have survived. It is kind of one of those things you just basically suck up and accept as a parent. It is part of adding baby to the family.

Preventing and treating sunburns pinnable image

Treating Sunburns

Despite our best efforts, sunburns can happen at times. There is really no shortage of things you hear from people–I have even heard to shower in a hot shower (which, by the way, I think sounds very counter intuitive. You want to cool the skin right?). Here are some ideas for treating them once it has happened. 

  • Aspirin. If you have never taken aspirin when you have a sunburn, do it! It is seriously amazing. The aspirin helps decrease the inflammation, heat, and pain. We find Bayer Advanced Aspirin Extra Strength works best (for adults). Bayer Chewable Aspirin Low Dose is for children.
  • After Sun Lotion. One of our favorite things is after sun lotion. It soothes the skin a lot. We love the smell of this one.
  • Vinegar. Many readers commented on the vinegar. Some said to put it in the bath, some said to spray it right on, and one said to soak a towel in vinegar/ice water mix and apply the towel to skin. 
  • Aloe Vera. This is a timeless tip. You can buy Aloe Vera but let me assure you that nothing is as powerful as the actual plant. Which reminds me, I need to get one of those. My mom has always had it and it is powerful.
  • LavenderLavender oil is known to heal burns.
  • Tomato Juice. One reader said rubbing fresh juice from a tomato helps heal burns. 
  • Another reader said Rodan and Fields Soothe Regimen helps with sunburns. 

Do you have tips for preventing or treating sunburns?

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2 thoughts on “Sunburns: Tips for Moms to Prevent and Treat”

  1. This is a great post! I would add that it is of utmost importance to prevent sunburns in kids, as the research shows that the risk of melanoma is greatly increased when kids between 0 and 10 get sunburns.

    • Oh yes Katie! I remember reading that. It is sad to me since kids don't really have any control at those ages.


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