To be Sun Smart means understanding the impact the Sun has on our skin and bodies. While ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are the best natural source of vitamin D, they are also the main cause of skin and eye damage, which can lead to skin cancers. Unlike the sun’s light or heat, we cannot feel UV rays until the damage has already been done. It is still possible to get a sun burn even on a cloudy day! However, there are many sources available to help us monitor UV levels and help plan our sun protection accordingly.
The Sun Smart app and website monitors live UV levels across 12 major Australian cities and provides sun protection times for more than 600 locations across Australia. The Bureau of Meteorology website also provides up-to-date information regarding UV levels throughout Australia.
The 5 S’s
When the UV level is 3 and above, it is important to remember to implement the 5 S’s: Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, and Slide. A combination of sun protection measures is the best way to avoid sun damage.
- Slip on sun protective clothing with the aim to cover as much skin as possible.
- Slop on sunscreen, with at least an SPF 30 or higher and reapply after two hours or after swimming and excessive sweating.
- Slap on a hat with a wide brim that can provide shade to your face, head, neck, and ears.
- Seek shade during sun protection times, in conjunction with other protective measures. Choose areas that don’t easily reflect UV rays like grass or soil.
- Slide on sunglasses that are close fitting and wrap around style. Check the label to make they meet the Australian Standard for eye protection (AS/NZS1067:2003) with category 2 or higher.
Sunburn occurs when the skin has been exposed to too much UV rays. Over the next 1 to 3 days the skin becomes hot, red, and painful and may blister and peel. Treatment for mild/moderate sunburns includes allowing the skin time to repair itself while providing relief of discomfort. You should stay out of direct sunlight during this time and drink plenty of fluids. Try taking a cool or lukewarm bath or shower to soothe the area. Ointments or creams are available to help with relief, however these are not appropriate for young children. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can also help reduce pain and swelling. If blisters occur, do not pop them. Allow them to open on their own and keep the area clean to avoid infection.
If you experience sunburn along with fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or blisters that look infected, it is very important to see your doctor as soon as possible. If you don’t have a regular GP, please contact our practice on 93704200 or book an appointment to see one of our experienced GPs.
For more information regarding sunburns and how to be Sun Smart this Summer, please visit the Health Direct site here.