sun protection

Two posts. First, the serious doom and gloom one with some options for what to do with sunburn.

It’s nice and sunny here. Hurray for that, because for most of the last week it was about 13 C and rainy. Thursday afternoon it started to clear, Friday was gorgeous, today seems to be more of the same. My kind of weather: around 20 C or so, sunny, slight breeze. OK, I admit, I do actually like rain, greyness, winds, and changeability too. Makes for more interesting skies and effects of the light. While I’ve enjoyed places like California and the Carribean whenever I’ve been there, I’ve got bored of the weather in under 48 hours and yearned for at least a bit of morning fog, and hoped that the longer it stayed nice, the bigger the thunderstorm would be. Doubtless due and overdue, so as to balance things out. The longer the sunshine and same temperature went on, the duller it got. Paradoxical, isn’t it? That non-dull weather could be duller than what’s usually thought of as dull (less brightly-coloured and illuminated, and generally “miserable”) weather. And I get depressed whenever I’ve spent the winter, or even just a week or so of it, north of a certain latitude. That may also be genes kicking in though, in Scotland anyway.

But the sun is shining in many places, people are enjoying themselves (me too, I admit), the season for sunning yourself outside has started. Bikinis on the beach and in parks. Beach volleball. Barbequeues. Garden parties. Many schools are out. For happy Americans, it’s the Memorial Day weekend. Croquet and polo and tennis are starting up. The Season is on its way.

We’re also coming to the end of Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

Burning isn’t nice, isn’t pretty, and hurts. Yes, it’s also physically damaging your skin and increases your chance of certain skin cancers. Burning is really seriously not a good idea, in sooooo many ways. Did I mention the hurting bit? And not being attractive? Even if you thought ahead and got yourself kitted out in a bikini or boardshorts (or speedos, whatever turns you on) in a complementary palette, or even in the exact same shade of red, maybe complete with an ironic lobster print crawling all over it?

Some tips for sunburn:

  • cool compresses: milk, yoghurt, or oat milk
    applied on dampened cotton cloths (just wash after; less eco-friendly option would be cotton wool or surgical gauze etc.).
  • aloe vera juice if that’s OK with your skin. The actual juice: NOT those gel-things that claim to “contain 100% pure aloe vera” (amongst the carbomers and so on). If in doubt, buy aloe vera juice for drinking, or buy the powder form and reconstitute it with water, or use a plant. The juice is sap that comes out the leaves: cut a leaf, milk out the juice. It’s OK, the leaves grow back and the plant (TTBOMK) doesn’t feel a thing.
  • poultices: I’ve had ones used on me that, as far as I remember, used oats and comfrey and some other herbs. Sorry, that was a long time ago: consult herbalists. Plenty resources online.
  • add a layer of calamine lotion on top: calamine lotion is great stuff
  • or, and do this later in the next few days, manuka honey. Or other honey with claimed healing powers. I’ve used more ordinary honey (but still raw unpasteurised) when I’ve needed to.
  • cover burned skin with loose soft cotton clothing
  • when I’ve had serious sunburn in the past, I spent about a week with the burns covered in gauze pads soaked in beeswax and some medicinal-smelling concoction. The pads were changed daily. I’d managed to get something like second-degree burns on my nose and cheeks. I was six. It was no fun, except the other kids there (this was on vacation) thought the pads were really cool, so I made some fun friends. But I could have done that just by wearing the pads, or a pirate disguise or something. Without getting burned first. Also, did I mention that I have a very low pain-tolerance threshhold and sensitive skin? If you, too, are a wimp: avoid burning…

And drink plenty fluids, ideally around body temperature (warmish sweetened ice tea is a good bet) as you’ll probably be dehydrated too. Small quantities, often. Take some paracetamol/acetaminophen (pain relief). Do not pick and scratch. If you’re tempted to, or find that you’ve done that the first night after sunburn, wear fine cotton gloves. Or a straight-jackewt (whatever turns you on, again). Take your temperature regularly, and generally monitor what the rest of your body is doing. Hopefully get some kind soul to do that and look after you…

This is a burn. Treat it as such. Whatever else you apply to other sorts of burn, if a burn is severe, use it too.

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