big hands i know you’re the one

I was religious with the sunscreen in Cuba, to the point where I was coating my teeth with it JUST IN CASE. That didn’t help my right shoulder though, which both Ed and I somehow missed on Tuesday. Of course, this was the area that was directly in the sun for about 9 hours solid on Tuesday, and was burned to an ever-loving crisp.

I can’t remember the last time I had a sunburn – I’m an anti-social nerd with gothic leanings; I don’t go out in the sun if I can get away with it. Unfortunately, I burned my right shoulder to dangerous levels and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Putting clothing on or off was a nightmare, as was sleeping. It hurt! I was bright red! None of this is any good at all!

.. I’d be red and cursing my clothing straps a thousand times over before I’d redo what came next:

behold the right shoulder of the damned

The burn was bad enough, but then it fucking BLISTERED. The whites – just the whites – of my lesbian tattoo blistered horribly, and was painful and hideous and terrible. It was disgusting – my shoulder looked like a monster from a B-movie with a surprisingly large makeup budget. The above picture was taken on Thursday evening and doesn’t come close to showing how awful it looked, let alone how much it hurt. I was quite scared that I had ruined my tattoo forever and would come away from Cuba with this permanent lumpiness on my shoulder, but the blisters – while numerous and gross – eventually disappeared (or popped, but I am NOT THINKING ABOUT THAT) and the skin flaked and peeled. It’s still uncomfortable, but it’s mostly just itchy – it feels like a new tattoo in the middle of healing, and I have to moisturize it nightly so it doesn’t get all tight and scaly. All my panicking was for not, but I was truly lost – I’d never burned and blistered like this, no one in our group had either, I couldn’t check the internet thoroughly for information, and there was no one I could go to and ask. I’m glad it turned out okay, but I never want to go through that again. I will take a regular old sunburn anytime, thanks. Blisters are disgusting.

6 thoughts on “big hands i know you’re the one

  1. Aiii, I can imagine the scare this must have been! What you had was a third degree sunburn:

    Burns are classified in three degrees. A first-degree sunburn reddens the skin. A second-degree sunburn causes reddening of the skin with some water blisters. A third-degree sunburn requires the immediate care of a doctor and causes lower cell damage and the release of fluid, resulting in eruptions and breaks in the skin where bacteria and infection can enter.
    [Random website]

    I’m light skinned, freckled and I love the sun and have worked as an outdoors life guard, and yet I’ve managed to get a 3rd degree only once (when I fell asleep on a beach as a kid). Had about a dozen of the second degree ones, though.

    • Just because I’m a first aid nerd (and an EMR) — burns are no longer classified his way anymore, and the random website you’re quoting is … rather incorrect, hehe.

      Burns are classified by their “depth” now. Kimli’s would actually classify as partial thickness (which is roughly the equivilent of second degree.) What used to be called third degree (now “full thickness”) goes beyond blisters, chars the skin completely, and is painless because the nerves have been burned. (Although a burn is rarely “just” one type, and a full thickness burn would have some partial thickness & superficial burns around it, and those would hurt like the bejesus.) Sunburns are, to my knowledge, never full thickness. Unless you’ve been touching the sun. Don’t do that.

      It’s sort of a pet peeve of mine when people refer to sunburns as third degree. Does it hurt when you poke it in the middle? Then it ain’t third degree. :D

      And yes, I (being fair & freckled) have burned myself considerably badly a few times myself. I’m fully expecting skin cancer any day now (and am somewhat hypochondriac about it now…) I had a burn when I was 17 so bad that you can still see the freckle line on my chest where my bathingsuit went. Blistered my neck, shoulders & ears. I NEVER EVER EVER forget to sunscreen my ears anymore. Ow.

  2. OMFG, Kimli!!!

    Holy crap that looks painful! makes some sense about the white areas… Presumably the sun is attracted to the white more?? Dunno.

    Ok, so. Burns. May sound wacky, but I swear that lavender essential oil (not room “fragrance” etc) actually heals burns and prevents blistering! Seriously!

    Discovered by a scientist interested in plants’ healing properties, when accidentally splashed w a chemical that would burn painfully, he put lavender on it… And was fine.

    Essential oils are anti-bacterial in general and lavender is excellent for skin. It’s about the only ess oil you can safely apply directly to skin without dilution.

    I’ve had a shin burn due to shaving ages ago that disappeared after laying on the lavender. No exaggeration. The red. Was. Gone.

    I’ve since done this for others, like my friend who had her first burn some years ago… Being partly of First Nations heritage, shed never had a problem, assumed she never would.

    One long day of baseball playing in the sweaty summer sun changed that. Applied the lavender on her burnt face and warned her it is known for inducing sleep. She said she’d be amazed if she could sleep in such pain.

    Next morning I receive a very grateful and excited call from her; she’d fallen asleep, rested well and the pain and dark pink colouring were gone. Asked me where to get some for herself. :)

    Oh, lav is also great for peeling and irritations. Multi-purpose stuff. I keep a bottle in my kitchen for cooking mishaps and used some just last night when some boiling water jumped onto my thumb. The pain had eased as I ate and a while later the angry pink spot was nearly gone.

    Note: do NOT put water (even cold) on the burn; it encourages blistering.

    If you dislike the smell, look for the different types of lavender oils as some are more flowery, others a bit “greener”.

    I think it would still help. If you were here, I’d gladly give you a test run. ;)

    Anyway, hope you’re all healed up real soon and stuff, eh?!

    PS Extra rambling brought to you by the letters C, R, P & S… And about 3 hours of sleep. And no, I font feel like a rock star. :/

  3. SCIENCE!

    (putting on lab coat):

    I did some work with pigments and solar irraidience a few years ago, so I can tell you why the white parts of the sunburn got burned so badly compared to the rest of the tattoo: because the titanium dioxide in the white tattoo ink absorbed more UV than the surrounding pigments and skin, and the UV heated them up more than elsewhere.

    Titanium dioxide is the same thing that’s used in poster paint to make it white, because it refracts/scatters visible light so well. They even use it in milk to whiten it. Mmm… milk. But they also use it in sunscreen, because it doesn’t just act on visible light, it also acts in the UV-range, but in the opposite way: it acts as an absorber of UV, sucking up the radiation that otherwise would have been absorbed by your skin. (There’s not real way to block UV short of wearing a jean jacket to the beach, so absorbing it is the next best thing.)

    Unfortunately in this case, the tattoo ink absorbed all that yummy UV and the particles got all hotted up and in turn hotted up the surrounding tissues and … burny burn burn, from the inside out. GROSS. But kind of neat. :)

    SCIENCE! =)

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