Sunburn

Sunburn is when your skin is burned by UV radiation from the sun. Repeated sunburn can cause permanent skin damage and increase the risk of wrinkles, freckles, pigmentation, skin lesions, and cancer – including malignant melanoma.

Whilst we need some expose to sunlight for Vitamin D production, to help keep bones and muscles strong and healthy – we don’t need sunburn! Sunburn is when your skin is burned by UV radiation from the sun.  In an Australia summer, sunburn can occur within 15 minutes. Skin burnt by UV radiation turns red within hours and the sunburn will continue to develop for the next one to three days. Most people who have been sunburnt will also peel. This is the body’s way of healing and shedding dead and damaged skin cells to make way for new skin underneath. Repeated sunburn (even mild sunburn) can cause permanent skin damage and increase the risk of wrinkles, freckles, pigmentation, skin lesions, and cancer – including malignant melanoma.

Farming men, women and agricultural workers are at risk of sunburn as they spend more time working outdoors during peak UV times.

The UV index scale tool is a great way for farmers and ag workers to check when peak UV times are during the day and when they need to be SunSmart. The UV index scale can be accessed by downloading the Sun Smart app on a smart phone or for non-smartphone users – the Bureau of Meteorology website.

To prevent sunburn a combination of five sun protection measures are recommended.

Slip on clothingSlop on SPF50+ or higher sunscreenSlap on a hatSeek shade and Slide on sunglassess.

Ensure sunscreen 50 + is available in the workshop, work utes and machinery. It is ideal to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before exposure to the sun, as this will allow time for the sunscreen to absorb and reduce the likelihood of dust sticking to your skin.

To purchase a Broad-spectrum 50+ sunscreen that filters both UVA and UVB radiation. Go to our Safety Shop

Skin damage from sunburn can be mild or severe. If there is blistering near 10% of the body – seek medical advice.

Find out more about Better Health Channel

References used for this topic page

More information:

Cancer Council Australia

Sunsmart

Clinical care:

Safer Care Victoria
Burns

Research & reviews:

The Medical Journal of Australia
Estimates of beneficial and harmful sun exposure times during the year for major Australian population centres

Preventive Medicine Reports
Farmers sun exposure, skin protection and public health campaigns: An Australian perspective 

World Health Organization (WHO)
Ultraviolet radiation and human health

Fast facts:

Sunburn

  • Even minor sunburn can lead to skin damage and skin cancer.
  • Sunburn can occur in less than 15 minutes of sun exposure for a person with fair skin.
  • Protect your skin – limit exposure, especially in the middle of the day – use a SPF 50+ Broad-spectrum sunscreen that filters both UVA and UVB radiation.
  • Wear long sleeved shirt and trousers and a broad brim hat.
  • Protect your eyes and wear AZ/NZS compliant sunglasses with fitted side arms where possible seek shade and plan indoor activities for the middle of the day.

Last updated: 6th May, 2020