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Research Letter
May 12, 2021

Sunburn Injuries Admitted to Burn Services in Australia and New Zealand

Author Affiliations
  • 1Statewide Burn Injury Service, Agency for Clinical Innovation, St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia
  • 2Burns Unit, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia
  • 3Burns Unit, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 4School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
JAMA Dermatol. 2021;157(6):729-731. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2021.1110

Excess exposure to UV radiation causes sunburn and is a risk factor for melanoma and other skin cancers. Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidence of melanoma worldwide (approximately 50 cases per 100 000 person-years).1 The majority of people with sunburns self-manage their injuries at home with simple creams and analgesics, and thus these injuries are often unreported. Characteristics of US patients with sunburns presenting to emergency departments and urgent care facilities have previously been reported.2 However, some patients with sunburns do present to and are managed in specialist burn services, typically as outpatients. This fact notwithstanding, there are still sunburn cases of sufficient severity and health impact that warrant inpatient treatment.3,4 There has not yet been a larger-scale study of patients with sunburn severe enough to warrant admission to specialist burn services across Australia and New Zealand. Information about the epidemiology of sunburn injuries on a broader scale is required to appropriately inform educational public health campaigns and initiatives.

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