WHILE a record number of fried Victorians are landing themselves in emergency with sunburn-related injuries, Echuca-Moama appears to be bucking the sunburn trend.
State hospital emergency data has revealed the number of people treated for extreme sunburn cases has almost tripled from 133 in 2004/05 to 355 last year.
That’s one person a day, on average, last year alone.
But it’s a very different picture at Echuca Regional Health, with the number of serious sunburn cases plummeting from 14 patients in 2016/17 to just three in 2017/18.
“We don’t see a large number of patients presenting with sunburn each week considering the area is a busy tourist area,” ERH emergency department unit manager Craig Frew said.
“However, patients may also present to the local medical clinics.”
While this drop may seem reassuring, a decline in extreme cases doesn’t mean Echuca-Moama residents are out of the woods yet.
According to Cancer Council, all sunburn, no matter how severe, is a sign of UV damage to the skin.
And a precursor to the much more sinister threat of skin cancer.
Yet, according to the Cancer Council’s National Sun Protection Survey, 671,000 Victorian adults were sunburnt on weekends alone during the 2016/17 summer, with many unaware that just 11 minutes unprotected in the summer sun could be enough to burn.
It’s this concerning trend that has seen local health professionals – including Mr Frew – continue to urge residents to be sun-smart in these final sizzling summer months.
And contrary to popular belief, solely slip-slop-slapping isn’t going to cut it.
“Sunscreen is a very important part of protection. However, there are other important factors as well,” Mr Frew said.
“According to Cancer Council, this includes wearing protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible, applying broad spectrum and water resistant 30+ sunscreen, wearing a hat (preferably wide-brimmed), legionnaire or bucket style, seeking shade and wearing sunglasses.
“People also need to be aware of sun exposure when the UV rays are most intense such as in the middle of the day.”
While sunburn comes with its fair share of pain and discomfort, Mr Frew said the real consequences were much more menacing.
“Long term sun exposure increases the risk of skin cancers and melanoma,” he said.
“People should reduce the risk of sun exposure and sunburn and regularly check their moles and skin to identify any changes in appearance.
“If they are at all concerned or notice any changes they should seek medical advice by seeing their GP.”
For those nursing sunburnt skin, Mr Frew recommended cooling the skin down, using a gentle, non-petroleum or non-oil-based moisturiser, avoiding further sun exposure and staying well hydrated.
“The SunSmart and Cancer Council Australia websites are also great resources – plus the SunSmart app provides information about the dangers of UV,” he said.
For tips on protecting your skin, visit sunsmart.com.au
The seeUV app can be downloaded for free on the App Store and Google Play.