Sunburn at Daycare Center - Should I Say Something?

Updated on June 22, 2012
T.M. asks from Tampa, FL
35 answers

My son is going to the Summer Camp Program of the after-school care that he attended this past school year. He is 6. Today they went on a field trip to a park...there was swimming, play, shows was a very full day. I was told to bring sunscreen for him. I use the spf 50 for babies on my kids. I applied some before I dropped him off and put the rest in his backpack. I told the morning teacher that he had sunscreen in his bag. She was not one of the teachers to supervise the field trip...those teachers are not there at drop off. I also told my son that he needed to make sure that the teachers put on more sunscreen throughout the day. The morning teacher indicated that the group usually reapplies sunscreen at certain intervals throughout the day.

I picked up this afternoon and my son has a moderate burn on his cheeks, his stomach, shoulders, and back. Although the burn is not horrendous, it is uncomfortable for him. He did say that they put more sunscreen on at least once. However, this trip was from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and they were swimming part of the day. Obviously, they did not reapply enough.

The Summer Program really is outstanding in every other way. My son had such a great time today. I was thinking that I might point out tomorrow that my son did get sunburned and to please be dilligent about sunscreen. Although I did tell my son to make sure he put more sunscreen on, I can see how he would forget at 6. There will be several more outdoor fieldtrips. Would this be out of line and how should I tactfully word this?

ETA: I sent the water babies sunscreen that was spray-on, so I don't know how much easier I could get....

To further clarify, this was a group of less than 24 kids and there were 4 adults that chaperoned the field trip. If I was able to go on each trip, then I would not need to pay for my son to goto Summer camp.

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So What Happened?

I talked to the Director of the center. My son was pretty uncomfortable yesterday and they could tell. I know that I put sunscreen on him before I dropped him off. They put more on before they left for the field trip and they did it at least once during the day. Still obviously not enough. The Director was very apologetic. We agreed that I would buy him one of those sunshirts to wear next time. They have also agreed to be more dilligent with the sunscreen. We'll see what happens, but I have a feeling that I won't have this problem next time.

Featured Answers



answers from Charlotte on

Yes, you should say something. But truly, if I were you, I'd get a swim shirt and put it on him. This is the kind of shirt that he can swim in and not take off. It dries really quickly and it will protect his skin.

That said, you need to put the sunscreen on him in the morning before putting the shirt on because the rays do go through the shirt to a certain degree.

I did this with my kids when we were at tropical beaches and regular beaches. They really liked the shirts because it helped their shoulders so much.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Raleigh on

I work at daycare and I always want my parents to know they can say anything. I have an awesome parent relationship. So if you feel like you need to as a mom then the teacher should understand. Just be polite and everything should be fine. Good luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think it would be OK to mention this.
Just say,something like:
"You know, I noticed Joey cheeks, back & shoulders were a bit crispy yesterday. I put a higher SPF in his bag today. There's no way he will remember to re-apply. Who can I ask?"

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Missoula on

Sunscreen is supposed to be re-applied every 2 hours...

I would buy your son a cool new (waterproof) wristwatch with a timer... Set it to go off every 2 hours. Tell him that when it goes off, he needs to ask the camp directors to put new sunscreen on him. :) Sometimes, there is so much fun going on that everyone just spaces things like this. A little reminder should go a long way to keeping things on track.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

It doesn't sound like it was deliberately overlooked, just as you said, maybe not enough was reapplied. I think sending a note or speaking with the director/teacher involved directly with the field trip to let them know he does have a burn (from activities the day before), so he will need to have sunscreen reapplied liberally throughout the day to protect him from another burn. You may even go purchase one of those sunscreen shirts many of the boys wear in the pool and avoid the problem altogether. Good luck! I hope your little guy isn't too uncomfortable! FYI: Sponge vinegar on him lightly with a soft cloth. It will provide immediate relief and the sting will be gone by morning.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Please do say something. I'm a preschool teacher and always had my families either bring sunscreen or give me a written agreement that I could apply it if need be.

Just a suggestion: I've seen a few articles which suggest the lotion might be more effective. Also consider a UV protective rash guard for his top half and trunks for the bottom. It can help. REI has good hats online, too.

Also, can you give him a little jar of aloe gel which he can apply himself when his burn bothers him ? (if the teachers allow it-- but he's 6 and aloe is consumable) I grew up in Honolulu and although I was the only light-skinned person in my family there, my grandparents always had an aloe plant.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Well sounds like they reapplied it, but with such a long day with the reflection of the water in the pool.. I bet is was pretty intense.Especially in Florida..

I would just mention it and remind your son how important the sun screen is.

Once our daughter had her first sunburn, boy she never forgot again to make sure it was put on her..

Also make sure it is "water proof" it is thicker and harder to wash off, but it really does work better in these situations.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

YES, you should say something. You live in Florida, right? Teachers there should be VERY well versed on sun protection. If you were up here in the Midwest I'd be a bit more understanding about teachers underestimating the sun's potency. No such excuse in the Sunshine State. They MUST be vigilant about it.

ETA: I used to work at a daycare, and they used to tell the parents to apply sunscreen in the morning, and then if we took the kids outside in the afternoon, we'd (the teachers) have to re-apply it ourselves. Yes, it is a hassle to put sunscreen on EVERY kid a few times a day, but as teachers, they MUST budget that time into the day. They have to plan snacks, etc., so that seems like an appropriate time to reapply before heading back out into the sun.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I would ask but I wouldn't be accusing. They may have applied it, you may have had a bad batch, it may have been expired. Who knows but making enemies has no upside so tell them he got burnt and put your heads together to make sure it doesn't happen again.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Of course, say something! I would say just what OneAndDone suggested.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

Absolutely say something... but not to get anyone in trouble. You simply need to let them know that however much sunscreen they put on your son wasn't enough. And I agree with the previous posters - there is starting to be more and more research that the spray on sunscreen is not as effective. I'd replace the spray with a lotion. And make sure he has a great sun hat.

My girls go to a summer camp that reapplies sunscreen throughout the day. One day last week the camp went to a nearby lake for the entire day and both of my girls came home a little pink. The counselor made it a point to tell me that she noticed they were getting a slight burn and put more lotion on them. Even that wasn't enough. I don't take it to mean that the camp didn't do a good job - just that my kids have very fair skin.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

sun screen washes off at some point, with a lot of kids itd be hard to stop every couple of hours to re apply. my daughter gets burnt sometimes with sun screen on all the time

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Would he keep a hat on and maybe a light oversized tshirt? That will help a little. One of my kids burns very easily (one does not burn at all). Some kids are more sensitive than others. You might need to remind the teachers of that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

We all get burned with sunblock on, it is part of summer.
I'd try to personally talk to someone that might help apply more sunscreen, but I think sending them to camp is a risk, and if your child doesnt remember to keep a shirt on and a hat on, it's his own bad.
I'd tell him to leave a tshirt on tomorrow and to wear a hat when he can.... let him know to put some on his arms and face. My boys were able to do that when they were 6.
If he's in pain, THAT will remind him, if he doesnt care, so be it.
You could volunteer to be there yourself and sunscreen rub all the kids yourself I suppose

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I am here in Hawaii.
Like Florida, the sun is strong and hot.
Even with sunscreen, a person can get sunburned.
A person can even get sunburn in rainy cloudy weather.

Your son did say they reapplied it.

Being in the sun, from 9:00am-6:00pm is a long time. For anyone, adults or children.
They I assume, ALSO have a shaded area????
And do they let the kids be in shade???
Or is it all just no shade covering anywhere???

My concern would be, that if that place had shady areas or not.

But yes, say something.
Ask if the kids are allowed, to go to shady areas, or if they have the kids, go into shady areas during that time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

I put waterproof sunscreen on my daughters at the lake in Alabama. It was SPF 110! Husband and I both reapplied a few times each. We were only there for 3 hours. And somehow they both still were slightly burned in a couple of spots. I would say they probably didn't reapply as necessary. However, with being outdoors all day there really is no sure way to keep a sunburn from happening. I would keep him inside until it heals. And perhaps show him how to spray it himself in case no one does it for him. It may not be perfect, but it would be better than nothing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Of course you should say something. Would you rather he keeps getting burned? Just say that he came home burned yesterday and would they please make sure he gets an extra coat of sunblock next time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

They have good intentions but no camp situation is going to be able to handle reapplying sunscreen as often as it needs to be applied for any large number of kids.
Have your son wear a rash guard shirt when he swims.
That will keep his chest, back, shoulders and arms down to his elbows from getting burned.
His face and neck will still need sunscreen, but with less area to cover, the teachers are more likely to be able to apply it like they should.
If they can't manage that, then you are going to have to go along on these field trips and apply the sunscreen yourself when ever he needs it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

A few summers ago we visited FL and went to the beach, I applied sunblock and still got a burn. I had to put my shirt on over my bathing suit.

A spray lotion at a pool probably isn't the best combination esp. if he reapplied it while still wet. That is one thing that you can talk to him about, if he is at the pool, and will be out of the water for a bit, he should dry off and put a shirt on.

I would say something, as the teachers should keep a watch for kids that need help with that. Especially when they visit the pool.

I also like Dawn's suggestion of a swim shirt. They look like the type a surfer would where. They are usually SPF50. I love those things!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If they did not DRY his skin - pretty completely then it did not stay on. I would address it as this: "Johnny still got a kiss from the sun, as you can see (insert light chuckle here), so ... what did the other parents use? I do not see little red faces and shoulders like Johnny's?" Go from there, and see what happens with the conversation.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

Back in 2006 my son attended a local sea and sail camp. He was 10.
I sent sunscreen on the day they would be out on the boat all day.
He applied it - the counselors applied it - his fair skin was well protected.
He broke out in a rash from the sunscreen.
They get off the boat, wash him down, and cover him in Benadryl lotion.
When I got there that evening they were all in a panic that I would think they ruined my child - his limbs were just broken out in a rash.
Eh, stuff happens at camp - it was not their fault he was allergic to the sunscreen.
The next day he wore long sleeves and Benadryl cream.

I mean, say something to the counselors, but realize that kids may get sunburned when outside all day, even with sunscreen on. Let them know that since he now has a sunburn you would like them to be extra vigilant about the sunscreen so he doesn't get sunburned on the sunburn. (ugh, painful).

Do put aloe gel on him tonight - it is like a miracle cure for my son.
Also, a little ibuprofen goes a long way for sunburn. And don't make his bath hot tonight - luke warm at best so his skin doesn't get more irritated.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Okay... one can still look pink/tan/red EVEN IF sunscreen is on. sunscreen protects from UVA and UVB... It does NOT fully block the rays from pigmenting (I know it isn't a word) the skin. OR you could actually get a sunburn even if you applied sunscreen. I have personally never experienced it, but I have naturally tan skin, so it reacts well to the sun.

SO, are you sure it is a BURN? Does he say it hurts? Cause it very well not even be a burn. I don't think you should necessarily say something... but I'd ask my son if they put more sunscreen on him after you did. There is your answer right there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You can remind them to put it on again at another field trip. But seriously, as a mom I didn't always repeat over and over sunscreen. Part of life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Absolutely, you need to say something. A lot of people (especially those who have darker skin tones and/or tan very easily) don't realize that even one bad burn can raise a person's tendency toward skin cancer almost exponentially. Those of us pasty-white folks need to protect our kids from burns at all costs. Skin cancer is no joke.

If I may suggest, if you currently use a lotion (the type you have to smear all over and then rub in until it's clear), you may want to get the spray-on type just to use at school. I suggest this because the easier it is to apply, the more likely it is that the teachers will be diligent in applying it. For faces, I usually send a face stick (it looks like a small stick of deodorant, almost). I will usually ask that my daughters have sunscreen reapplied every 90 minutes at a bare minimum, every hour preferably. This is really a child safety issue, and you need to educate the daycare staff about it on behalf of your fair-skinned kiddo. :) Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

In our area, preschools, schools, daycares, and camps are NOT allowed to put bug sprays or sun screens on children. It's state law. Parents must do it prior to turning them over to staff no matter how easy it is to apply for the staff. Even if you apply it yourself and the sunscreen wears off, the staff isn't allowed to reapply. Even if you get a doctor's note. Because of that I'm having a hard time encouraging you to come down hard on the staff at daycare summer camp.

For the record, though, I disagree with the law, but in order for things like this to be avoided the staff should have limited the sun exposure to the morning hours keeping in mind how long sunscreen that's applied before class will last.



answers from Orlando on

I would be SUPER annoyed w/this...especially as someone who has had melanoma. My kids aren't in school yet, but this is something that im
Already stressing about since we live in the sunshine state.
I used to teach preschool & we always made sure the kiddos were coated on sunscreen before going outside. These kids were much younger than your son. There is no excuse.
I think you definetly say something to his teachers.
I'm so sorry this happened.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would mention it. He could be burned worse tomorrow. I would just mention it in casual tones and make it sound like he gets burned at the drop of a hat and could they please make sure to cover him really well. They will fell better about doing this for you if it is non-confrontational but more like some friendly conversation.



answers from Chicago on

I would definitely say something. Do you know for sure if they re-applied the sunscreen you packed? My daughter's day care does not allow spray-on sunscreen - it has to be the lotion/cream kind. If they have the same rule, maybe they ended up using whatever they had on hand?

I think if you phrase it in a way as "how can I help by doing XYZ so that my son doesn't get burned again" it should be fine.



answers from Columbus on

Sunburns, especially in young children, increase significantly the chance of skin cancer later in life. So, yes, I would say something. It's especially important that he and his caregivers be doubly diligent--because it's easy for it to get worse and go from a mild sunburn to a 2nd degree sunburn the next day or while the sunburn is still healing.

If it's a spray-on, make sure they are rubbing it into the skin--just spraying it on doesn't really help unless it's rubbed in. We use Neutrogena "Wet Skin Kids" spray on. It is designed to be used even if the kids don't dry off completely. If you don't trust them to rub in the spray kind, then just buy the lotion type and use that instead.



answers from Fargo on

Do talk to them. It's their responsibility to reapply as needed, not just at scheduled intervals. A sunburn can be a serious injury to a child and letting them know what happened can save them, and another child, a whole lot of trouble later, even legally. A 6 year old shouldn't be expected to be responsible for their own sun protection.

Hopefully they will appreciate you talking to them!

Do you have any extra virgin coconut oil? It's great for healing sunburns.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I would definitely say something. It is important. A single bad sunburn as a child doubles their lifetime risk of melanoma.



answers from Phoenix on

Hat, sunblock stick for face, and a 2 piece bathing suit with more coverage are the best solutions here.

Just at DD's school summer program this year, there are over 100 kids. Now, honestly, there's not point in even going outside if they have to worry about reapplying sunscreen 2 or 3 times each to all of those kids. It's just not a realistic expectation & is something you have to sacrifice when you leave your child in someone else's care.

I don't care how much sunblock you have on, if you are out all day in the sun on & off, you will get color, no matter what your complexion is like. To expect no color whatsoever is also not very realistic.

This topic has come up before, and I just think it's not a daycare battle I'd choose to fight. If the day long trips are once a week or less, then I'd especially let it go.



answers from New York on

I would say something most def, they are responsible for your children and we are to trust that they will do the best job. I would lather him/her up before they left in the morning to at least give a little extra protection. They should have assembly lines of lotion or spray or what ever it is to ensure that all the kids are protected, no matter the age.

You could also use vinegar in the bath, it helped me when i had a really bad sunburn.. helps take the sting out.



answers from Houston on

I would say something. When I took care of kids, I was able to add that personal touch and pay attention to details. I think that people who aren't willing to put forth the energy to consider these details should find other jobs. Childcare is not just for people who can't find something else to do. I wish that it would be taken more seriously.


answers from Salt Lake City on

You have the right to say anything to anyone about your child and how they treat or care for them


You have the right to say anything to anyone about your child and how they treat or care for them

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