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Sunburnt Victorians Seek Hospital Treatment in Record Numbers, Prompting Cancer Warning

A record-high number of Victorians required hospital treatment for sunburn in the past year, Cancer Council Victoria says.

According to data released through its SunSmart program, 355 people went to the emergency room with sunburn last financial year, compared to 216 the year before.

Almost 200 of the cases recorded last financial year were in January.

SunSmart’s Heather Walker said the figures were “alarming”.

“Aside from the really painful consequences of sunburn in the short term — and if you’re presenting to emergency then that really is quite severe — it’s the long-term damage that your skin’s suffering as a result,” she said.

“Sunburn increases the risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, and every time you get sunburn that damage adds up and every time you get tanned that damage adds up.”

The Cancer Council’s long running “slip, slop, slap” message, has been credited with changing attitudes to wearing a t-shirt, hat and sunscreen in the sun.

Later campaigns have added “seek and slide” to the message, referring to seeking shading and wearing sunglasses.

But the Cancer Council’s National Sun Protection Survey showed around 671,000 Victorian adults were sunburnt on weekends alone during the 2016–17 summer.

Ms Walker said the message needed to be emphasised, particularly to young adults and adolescents.

“If you’ve got children, you tell them to brush their teeth once, you don’t really expect them to do it every night without prompting,” she said.

“It’s a similar thing here with the health messages around skin cancer … we need to keep reinforcing these messages, particularly for a young audience.”

Young people represented more than half of those needing emergency care for sunburn in 2016–17.

There were 114 people aged 10–19 needing emergency treatment, and 95 people aged 20–29.

Top 5 Sunscreen Myths – Cancer Council Australia

Myth 1

Sunscreen shouldn’t be used on a daily basis as it’s not safe

FALSE: Sunscreen and sunscreen ingredients are strictly regulated by the TGA to ensure it is safe and effective. It can be worn on a daily basis without harming your health and should be used alongside other forms of sun protection, whenever UV levels are 3 or above.

Myth 2

Using sunscreen will stop you getting enough vitamin D

FALSE: A number of studies show sunscreen use in real life has minimal impact on Vitamin D levels. In summer, most Australians get enough Vitamin D through incidental sun exposure — for instance while walking to the shops at lunch. Even those who are Vitamin D deficient shouldn’t sunbake or skip sun protection.

Myth 3

If you have a good sunscreen it’s enough to protect you from the sun

FALSE: Sunscreen should always be used in conjunction with protective clothing, seeking shade, a broadbrim hat and sunglasses. Sunscreen is not a suit of armour and shouldn’t be used to extend your time in the sun.

Myth 4

Using a water resistant SPF50+ means you can stay in the sun longer without having to reapply

FALSE: Any sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming, sweating or towel drying, regardless of the level of water resistance advised on the bottle.

Myth 5

You only need a little bit of SPF50+ to be protected

FALSE: To get the correct level of SPF you need to apply the right amount of sunscreen. This should be at least one teaspoon per limb, one for the front of the torso, one for the back, and one for the head. This is seven teaspoons (or 35ml) in total.

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Source ABC News

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