Dr Mary Stavropoulou, GP and skin cancer doctor said many skin cancers are preventable by avoiding solariums, sunlamps and excessive sun exposure.

“Having a tan does not protect you against skin cancer. All sunburn and sun-tanning can increase the rate of skin ageing and risk of skin cancer and brown spots,” she said.

Dr Stavropoulous suggested that it is never safe to tan.

Such suggestions follow data which indicates that during the Australian summer, the sun emits UV radiation at high levels for most of the day.

The average solar UV Index during summer ranges from 8 to 14 which is “high to very high” according to data from the Bureau of Meteorology.

But Dr Stavropoulou says you can develop sunburn even on cold or cloudy days if outside long enough depending on the time of year and urges people to check the day’s UV rating and sun protection advice on the free SunSmart app.

She also suggested people wear polarised sunglasses to Australian Standards Category 2 to *4 which can help decrease UV radiation and harm.

“These sunglasses help also prevent cancers of the eye and eyelids, eye growths, cataracts and age related blindness,” she said.

If you do get burned, there are many things that you can do to treat painful sunburn such as drinking plenty of water (volume of daily fluid needs to be discussed with your doctor if you are on certain medication or have a certain medical condition), not using soap, and take cool baths or use compresses.
Dr Stavropoulou advises you seek medical attention for sunburn if you are feeling ill, or if you have severe pain, many blisters or sunburn over a large area.

Doctors say they have also seen an increase in patients seeking assistance for heat-related illnesses and other medical conditions that may be exacerbated by the heat.

Studies have shown mortality increases between 0.45 and 1.21 per cent were associated with a 1 per cent increase in daily maximum temperature.

In Melbourne, it was found that an increase of 14 to 15 per cent in average daily mortality of people aged 65 and over when mean daily temperature exceeded a threshold of 30 degrees Celsius.

Vice President of the Hellenic Medical Association of Australia, Dr George Stabelos said that elderly patients with medical co-morbidities such as heart, lung and kidney disease may be more susceptible when the climate changes dramatically.

“Acclimatisation and the body’s ability to adapt and be able to cool itself optimally takes 10 to 14 days in the new climate,” he said.

His advice is particularly pertinent for those thinking of travelling to warmer climates during the Australian winter months and vice versa.
“Anyone planning a trip should see their doctor at least one month before to discuss any issues relevant to their individual health,” he said.

* Note: Category 4 sunglasses cannot be used for driving.

For more information on sun safety visit sunsmart.com.au