Lesson learned: PLEASE apply sunscreen!

My name is Denver and I write many of the blogs for NorEaster Nick. During the holiday weekend, I went to Orlando for a little fun in the sun. Before going into the pool, I decided not to put on sunscreen because I would be in the water and I was not planning on staying outside for more than 30 minutes.

Now, I am the one that normally tells everyone during heatwaves to apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and drink plenty of water. Why on earth did I think that the same rules did NOT apply to me?

Fifteen minutes went by and I noticed my shoulders were already feeling toasty. I continued swimming in the pool and thinking that the water would cool off my body. By thirty minutes, my head (which is shaved) hurts, my shoulders hurt, and I suddenly feel exhausted. I knew the heat was getting to me and signs of heat exhaustion were starting to kick in. I go inside to cool off and drink water and begin to feel better, but my shoulders are hurting more and more — the sunburn was pretty bad. It was difficult and downright painful to sleep at night.

The next morning, I noticed numerous blisters on my shoulders. The direct sunlight and no sunscreen protection caused blistering common in second-degree burns. I contacted a few friends who are doctors and they were honestly shocked that it wasn’t worse. Aloe Vera was going to be my friend for the next several days.

How to treat sunburn

Aloe Vera is your best friend – If your sunburn is more serious, then it’s likely best to consult a doctor. I was advised to just try Aloe Vera to see how it would work but was told I may have to get a burn relief medication for sunburn, which includes lidocaine. Try sticking the bottle of Aloe Vera in the refrigerator before applying it to your body as the coolness helps to numb the pain.

Stay hydrated – It is very important to drink more water than usual so that your sunburn can heal faster. Sunburnt skin can make you dehydrated.

Pain medication – An anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen may help to reduce the pain. It’s best to check with your doctor to see what is recommended.

Cool compresses – Putting a cool, wet towel over the sunburn will also help to ease the pain. Try o do this at least two or three times a day for 20 minutes.

DO NOT PICK THE BLISTERS! Let your skin heal on its own! Picking blisters may cause infections and lead to additional serious problems.

Sunburn can cause skin cancer

Don’t freak out! Just because you got burnt one time doesn’t mean you’ll get skin cancer, but repeating this process over and over will certainly increase your risk. Sunburn accelerates skin aging and is the leading cause in the majority of cases of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Sunburn is bad news, but the good news is that it’s totally preventable.

Lesson Learned

I will ALWAYS apply sunscreen, even if I am only going outside for ten minutes. I purchased SPF 70 sunscreen lotion. The SPF doesn’t have to be this high, you could easily get away with SPF 30 or 50. However, due to my skin being as white as Casper the Ghost, I don’t want to end up looking like a red lobster ever again!

Always reapply the sunscreen every one to two hours as the first layer typically does not last too long! Also, remember to stay hydrated. Less alcohol and caffeine in the hot sun and more cold water! Drinking water will help you to stay hydrated and will also keep your skin hydrated!

Learn from the messenger (and the dummy who didn’t listen to his own advice.) Trust me… you do NOT want sunburn blisters. Please be smart and stay safe! -Denver

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