Sunburn cases on the rise in SA children

Glenelg Beach
Parents and carers are being urged to remain vigilant as sunburn related injuries in children and young people rise in South Australia.

The Woman’s and Children’s Hospital (Ngankiku Ngartuku Kukuwardli) has seen a spike in presentations over the last few weeks – with 15 patients being treated for severe sunburn. Previous years have seen similar numbers over the entire summer period.

Clinicians are also asking adults to take extra precautions as childhood sun exposure is the leading cause of nonmelanoma skin cancers in adults. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Around two out of three Australians are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70, and more than 37 per cent of adults in South Australia have reported having sunburn in a 12-month period.

Not only can frequent or prolonged sun exposure, without the proper precautions, cause immediate damage, but it can also have serious implications later in life – with more than 95 per cent of skin cancers caused by exposure to UV radiation.

Prevention is always the best cure. With the weather heating up this weekend, it’s important to protect yourselves and keep yourself and your children safe in the sun.

Sun safety tips:

  • Wear a hat, loose clothing and sunglasses
  • Keep fluids up
  • Seek shade or shelter
  • Apply 30+ sunscreen regularly to all exposed skin, even in the shade
  • When applying sunscreen, make sure easy to miss areas aren’t forgotten such as the top of hands, top of feet, ears, and scalp
  • Avoid going out during the hottest part of the day (between 10am – 4pm), and always wear sunscreen – no matter the time of day
  • Wait at least 20 minutes after applying sunscreen to go outside, or in the water
  • Don’t expose babies, less than 12 months of age, to the sun at any time


If your child does suffer mild sunburn:

  • Keep fluids up to prevent dehydration and heat-related illness
  • Have a cool bath or shower
  • Use a non-irritant moisturiser such as Sorbelene or DermaVeen
  • Wear loose, light clothing which won’t irritate the skin – avoid tight-fitting and scratchy fabrics
  • Take a mild pain relief like Panadol or Nurofen


Seek medical attention immediately if a sunburn is badly blistered, a child is showing signs of dehydration, or pain is unable to be managed with mild pain relief.

Parents and carers can never be too cautious when their children are in the sun.

“It is incredibly distressing for children to be treated for sunburn, they are often in severe pain and require frequent dressing changes. No parent wants to see their child suffer, especially from something that’s preventable,” warned Women’s and Children’s Hospital Plastic Surgeon, Burns Service, Dr Bernard Carney

He stressed, “This is why we’re reminding South Australians not to take any chances – and to keep cool and covered.”

For more information:


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