Heatwave warning: Sunburn cases surge as dry spell persists

Science and Health

As the current dry heatwave continues, which is expected to continue until the middle of next week, it brings not only discomfort and heatstroke but also poses risks to the skin, including sunburn.

In the last two weeks, four girls and a boy – all teens – have been brought to the emergency department of Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem with significant burns on their bodies after being in the sun for a long time. The 15-year-old boy was treated for extensive burns and blisters all over his body.

The physicians warned that careless exposure to the sun, especially in the coming days of the heat wave, “is a real danger.”

Dr. Stav Sarna Cahan from the burns’ unit in the hospital’s plastic surgery department said that all four patients whom he treated were sunburns of varying degrees after a long stay in the sun. “They have burns that created blisters, redness and swelling, and even if they are medically considered a superficial sunburn, they cause great suffering.”

“The girls were in a lot of pain, and no home preparation or cream was helpful in calming and reducing the pain,” he said. “The girls arrived in pain and in great suffering even after intensive treatment against pain in the pavilion, some of the girls needed rehydration – active removal of the blisters on their bodies, fortunately none of the patients needed hospitalization.

Long-term damage to the skin from sunlight exposure?

“There is a lot of talk about the long-term damage to the skin from exposure to sunlight, but sometimes we forget, especially at the beginning of summer, that direct exposure to the sun for a long time without the use of sunscreen and a hat can cause significant burns and considerable suffering for children and even adults. The fact that this is a cluster of cases shows that there is a need to increase awareness among parents and teenagers of the risks of exposure to solar radiation, both in the long term and in the short term,” noted Dr. Hashavia Saar of the pediatric emergency department.

“It’s important to understand, these are significant sunny days in which the radiation is strong, and sometimes, one doesn’t have to be in the sun for a very long time to be harmed, especially in the first exposures of the season. Prevention is the name of the game and smart behavior in the sun with maximum protection of each and every time.”

“The teen girls we treated are not used to being exposed to the sun, and when light and very-sensitive skin was exposed, the results were dismal. The encouraging part, emphasized Sarna Kahn, “is that these burns, which cause a lot of pain, most likely will not leave significant scars on the skin with proper treatment and usually there is no need for dramatic hospitalization. However, the event was very traumatic for the patients, and the accumulative damage is enormous in the aspects of the skin, including the risk of developing skin cancer of its various types.”