A toddler can become sunburned in a matter of minutes, but symptoms may not show up until six to 12 hours following sun exposure. Even minor sunburns in toddlers can leave the skin warm, red and painful and interfere with sleep. More severe burns can cause chills, blisters, headaches, vomiting and general illness. Fortunately, there are many ways to soothe your toddler's sunburn at night to alleviate pain and promote sleep. Severe burns that blister or ooze require medical attention.
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Offer your child extra fluids to prevent dehydration, a side effect of sunburn and extended time spent outdoors in the sun. Water is best to prevent dehydration, but juices and other liquids are also beneficial.
Apply cool compresses to burned skin, or give your toddler a cool bath right before she goes to bed. This helps cool and soothe her skin, which can make falling asleep easier.
Cover your toddler's burned skin in a thick layer of aloe or moisturizing lotion. Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D., of MayoClinic.com recommends against using products that contain alcohol or benzocaine.
Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease her discomfort. These medications may help your toddler tolerate the sensation of pajamas and blankets against her burned skin. Ibuprofen has the added benefit of reducing inflammation and potentially speeding recovery from sunburn.
Dress your toddler in smooth, lightweight clothing at bedtime, or let her sleep naked if she cannot tolerate fabric against her skin. Fabrics like satin and silk are usually more comfortable than scratchy fabrics. Watch out for zippers, buttons and snaps.
Try an antihistamine if your toddler's sunburn is itchy at night and interfering with sleep. Adding colloidal oatmeal to your toddler's bathwater may also help relieve itching.
Call your pediatrician if your toddler's sunburn blisters, if she seems generally unwell after the first day or if she develops symptoms of dehydration, such as lethargy, sunken eyes, a lack of tears or urination, or a dry mouth and lips.