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Sun Sense: Protecting Your Family's Skin

Can't understand how your child got a sunburn when he was only outside for a few minutes? He may be taking a medication or have been in contact with something that made his skin more sensitive to sunlight. Exposure to the sun while taking certain drugs can cause a burn or rash on exposed body parts, which can surface anywhere from a few hours to several days later. And sunlight on skin that's touched fresh foods like celery or the juices and oils from the rinds of lemons or limes can cause a rash that's itchy, blistery, red, or dark brown.

If you're eating outdoors, slather your little one with sunscreen, keep him out of direct sun, and wash his hands, as well as your own (plant juices can be transferred), immediately after food preparation, says Andrew Bronin, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine. If a reaction does occur, typical sunburn care, such as applying cortisone cream and cool compresses, usually relieves the irritation.

Ask your pediatrician or pharmacist about possible photosensitivity reactions with any medication your child is taking. If needed, keep him out of the sun as much as possible, and before you head outside apply sunscreen with an SPF of 15 to 30 and UVA/UVB protection. Also, dress him in a hat, long sleeves, and pants.

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