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22 February 2018

Being Smart About Sunburn

If you grew up in Australia, it's likely you've already been warned thousands of times about the danger of sunburn. Even with a lifetime of warnings, so many people still end up badly burnt after a day at the beach or after a jog. While often written off as just a side effect of living in our sunny country, sunburns are often serious and always preventable. In this blog, we'll be looking at what a sunburn actually is, how it can impact your health, and what you can do to ensure you never wake up stinging after a day out and about.

Nothing to scoff at

People in Australia can be extremely cavalier about sun protection, but sunburn is no joke. A sunburn is not like a thermal burn and shares more in common with radiation burns – due to overexposure to UV radiation – than the after effects of touching a hot stove. The redness is actually a sign of the body struggling to heal itself – caused by an increase in the level of blood being pumped into the blood vessels in the affected area to aid in repair. Excessive exposure can lead to direct DNA damage to the skin, causing cell death that results in that disgusting and often painful peeling process that everyone goes through after a bad sunburn.

A risk of serious injury

Unfortunately, there's no safe level of sunburn. While mild sunburns can be painful and fade quickly, it's important to remember that your body has just received a harmful dose of radiation. The biggest risk associated with sunburn is the increase in risk of developing skin cancer – either melanoma, basal-cell carcinoma or squamous-cell carcinoma – in the affected area. While treatable if caught early, treatment involves pain excision of the cancerous tissue and often follow up chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Slip, slop, slap and beyond

Australia – especially the sunny northern regions of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia – is considered to be the melanoma capital of the world. If you'd like to avoid contributing to this statistic and want to avoid at the very least some painful burns, practice some basic – but highly effective – sun safety. Don't just stop at slip, slop, slap – though they are essential – SunSmart has since extended the campaign to 'Seek shade or shelter' and 'Slide on some sunnies'. Follow the five S's and ensure that you're staying safe this summer. 

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