Staggering number of people in Queensland don’t wear sunscreen
Staggering number of people in Queensland don’t wear sunscreen

Why Sunshine State is snubbing sunscreen

AN alarming number of Queenslanders do not use sunscreen, or fail to apply it correctly, despite living in the melanoma capital of the country.

New research by a Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital specialist has revealed a staggering 49.3 per cent of people do not normally wear sunscreen.

The study, of 80 Queenslanders, also found about 79.1 per cent of respondents reported being sunburnt at least once during the previous six months, with 29.9 per cent reporting at least one episode of severe sunburn with blistering or requiring medical attention.

More than half, or 60.6 per cent, of those surveyed have never had a skin check, despite the Sunshine State being world-renowned as a hot spot for skin cancer.

The research, by RBWH doctor Warren Fayers, also found just 21.7 per cent of people always reapply sunscreen during prolonged exposure or after swimming - which is crucial for correct application - meaning nearly 80 per of respondents are doing it wrong.

Jess Zambottie applying sunscreen with Charlotte, 2, and Henry, 9 months. Pics Tara Croser.
Jess Zambottie applying sunscreen with Charlotte, 2, and Henry, 9 months. Pics Tara Croser.

"I guess what was most shocking was even though most of the people were exposed to at least 15 minutes of sun every day, nearly half of them aren't wearing any form of sunscreen or sun protection," Dr Fayers said.

Dr Fayers' research will be unveiled at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeon's 88th Annual Scientific Congress, held in Bangkok this month.

He is hoping the findings make Queenslanders more diligent on using sunscreen appropriately and for further public health interventions and education regarding sunscreen use and skin cancer.

"There's really a lot of social pressure to be tanned and fit and healthy, when it comes to social media and that sort of thing," he said.

"There is still a big role available for public health education about appropriate sunscreen use and the effects of UV damage."

The Courier-Mail last month revealed an average of 85 people a day are being hospitalised in Queensland with deadly skin cancers - last year about 3218 were treated in hospital for malignant melanoma, the worst form of skin cancer.

Mum-of-four Jess Zambottie said her family applied sunscreen daily as part of their getting out of the house routine.

"There is times we forget and Charlotte will promptly remind us," she said.

"Children already have super sensitive skin and if I can prevent one of my children from getting skin cancer or melanoma in the future by simply applying sunscreen, than that 5 minutes it takes to apply sunscreen to them is worth it."



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