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Sunburns Severe Enough to Warrant Admission Described

WEDNESDAY, May 12, 2021 -- Sunburns severe enough to warrant admission to a specialist burn service are described in a research letter published online May 12 in JAMA Dermatology.

Siobhan Connolly, from the Agency for Clinical Innovation in St. Leonards, Australia, and colleagues identified patients admitted between Jan. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2019, for whom the primary cause of injury was sunburn from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ). Patient characteristics, injury event and severity details, and in-hospital outcomes were described.

The researchers found that 0.6 percent of the 29,382 patients included in the BRANZ registry were admitted to burn services for sunburns. The median patient age was 18 years, while 22 and 16 percent of patients were aged 5 to 14 years and 15 to 24 years, respectively. Sixty-four percent of the sunburns were sustained while patients participated in a leisure or sporting activity; an additional 12 percent sustained sunburns while resting or sleeping outside. Fifty-nine percent of the patients sustained the sunburns in a place for leisure or recreation. Most patients (59 percent) sustained superficial burns, and 4 percent sustained full-thickness burns. Less than 5 percent of total body surface area was affected in most cases. Nineteen percent of the patients underwent a burn wound management surgical procedure. During their admission, 4 percent of patients were admitted to the intensive care unit.

"Despite widespread campaigns about sun protection and the availability of sun protection products, the number of patients with sunburns severe enough to warrant admission to a specialist burn service for management (including operative management) for this entirely preventable injury is concerning," the authors write.

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