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Tales of My 2nd Degree Facial Burn Sans the Sunscreen

While visiting a male friend out of state, I did a mindless thing and agreed to go fishing spur of the moment.     We were on this huge lake at 4:30 a.m. until noon on what ended up being an overcast day.    One known to be careful when exposed to the sun, I was ill-prepared:  no sunscreen, no hat, but I was covered up from neck to toe.  Long story short, when we returned to shore, we realized we were both sun-burned.  My face suffered a severe second- degree burn.  Once home, I immediately contacted a dermatologist who prescribed a topical cream and ordered me to remain inside and away from the sun for six long and excruciating months.    Blisters formed on my skin, stuff oozed out, and scabs began to form.  My second- degree burn would quickly become a third degree burn if the skin became infected.   The scabs had to fall off on their own and I was not allowed to wash my face.   I looked like a freak you would see in a horror movie.  I was frightened beyond belief that I would be left with irreparable scars.  My doctor advised had I been a sun worshipper that would have been the case.  However, being I was not, he believed I would not be left with a scar face.  The time of healing proved him right.  And to make bad matters worse, being a single Mom, I had to go to work looking that way.   

 So far I’ve been fortunate — minimal to no wrinkles; however, my facial skin is now sprinkled with a couple of small brown spots and a few freckles due to the sunburn my skin endured.    So I apply a facial moisturizer with sunscreen several times a day, and I minimize my time in the midday sun. I also wear sunglasses with full UV protection to protect my eyes.

Luckily, my facial burn didn’t become a full blown third- degree burn leaving me with a major cosmetic facial deformity.  You would be amazed at how many women of all ages have suffered second degree burns and self medicate not realizing they can be setting themselves up for major problems with scarring, infection, etc.   If you experience a severe burn to your face, please go to your doctor for proper treatment.

Sunscreens are chemical agents that help prevent the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the skin. Two types of ultraviolet radiation, UVA and UVB, damage the skin and increase your risk of skin cancer.  The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen.

The government has placed ultraviolet radiation (UVR) both from the sun and from tanning machines on its list of known human carcinogens. UVR produces DNA damage that may lead to skin cancer. Therefore, along with other sun safety precautions, sunscreens that absorb or block UVR serve an important protective function.

 A walk through pharmacy aisles showcases the popularity of two kinds of products:  full-spectrum sunscreens that protect against cancer-causing sunburn and artificial tanning lotions, creams and sprays.  Of nearly 1,000 sunscreens reviewed only 143 lesser brands contain titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are known effective blockers of ultraviolet radiation.   In my personal investigation of the sunscreens on our local drugstore shelves, I was amazed to find only one brand which contained both titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  These two ingredients are critical to protecting your skin from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.  So read the label and check for both titanium and zinc oxide. 

People typically do not use enough sunscreen to protect themselves from the harmful effects of the sun.  The key is to keep applying sunscreen to block out the UV rays and by reapplying sunscreen.  More than 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure and sunscreens are an important deterrent against the disease.

 Unprotected exposure to the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun can be hazardous to your health.  Originally from California, I knew people who started out in their teens continuing well into their 30’s baking in the summer sun coated with baby oil instead of sunscreen.  Coating your skin with baby oil versus sunscreen is a recipe for skin damage.

I  just cringe when I see men and women of all ages over-exposing themselves to the harmful rays of the sun with minimal to no protection, especially young children.  The damage you do to your skin will eventually catch up with you.  And being a woman, I know how vain we can be about our looks, and as age catches up, we start noticing changes that we can do very little about.

An overall strategy of protection should include sunscreen, a hat, staying out of the sun, avoiding the hottest part of the day and covering up with clothing as an overall part of the whole package.

A plastic surgeon once told me that they can change many things, except bad skin.   So I urge you strive for “healthy, natural glowing skin” by nourishing and moisturizing it, protecting it, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and don’t forget the sunscreen!


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