I managed to have a day off on one of the hottest Sydney days we’ve had since last summer. It was a fresh 33 degrees, and naturally I decided to go to the beach and make the most of the semi-empty beach before summer really started. Given I’d been in winter hibernation for some months, I was eager to get some Vitamin C…
…Okay, I wanted a tan.
I lay in the sun between 11am and 1pm. With the sky generally overcast, I wasn’t too worried about getting burnt to a crisp. I put some sun cream on some places, but not others. Those “others” suffered for my ignorance. My sister and I got in the car to drive home, and already she noticed: “Hey, you’re a bit red”.
“Yay! Tan!” I said.
No. Bad Amy. It was burn. By the time evening came around I was a tender red hot mess. It actually hurt to walk, roll over in bed, bend my knees – you name it, it was singed and crispy. Mmmm. Three days of applying Aloe Vera and having cold showers later, it’s just starting to turn in to tan. But my opinion? Not worth the pain, or the damage it may have done long-term. Here are a few things to consider before your weekend beach-sesh:
No sir. Sunburn comes on slowly, and it’s kind of like falling over in public. You know it’s about to happen, you can see it starting to happen, in your head you’re like “Oh god, I’m falling,” but by the time you’re falling there’s no time to save yourself and you have to accept that you’ve tripped in the street – yes, I am referring to my own experiences of public humiliation. My point is, sunburn takes its time punishing you.
“Ohhh, you got burnt!” Oh really? Thanks Trish*, I just thought my entire body was red and painful for no reason whatsoever. Another great thing about accepting your dumb decision to roast your entire body like a tender piece of meat on sand is that everyone wants to comment on it. You may be feeling the heat of your burn warming you from the inside out, but did you know you looked burnt too?! If not, your colleague is about to tell you. Strap yourself in for a week of annoying observations about your new hue.
*Sorry if your name is Trish. Stop asking about my sunburn.
And it will bite you in the butt, hard. Yes, I’m aware that I’m being hypocritical because I just went out and got myself a brand-spanking new suit of burnt skin, but I realise my own idiocy – so listen up. Approximately two in three Australian’s will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70, and most of this happens because of high exposure to UV radiation (sun). Sunburn causes 90% of sun cancers, and these are the most deadly form of skin cancer. So it’s worth going out and buying yourself some SPF30. Do it.
Long days in the sun can have a vast range of effects on your health, not just burning you to oblivion. You’re also probably at risk of getting heat stroke or heat stress. Symptoms of this include:
While you should definitely still enjoy everything about an Australian summer – it’s hot and it’s awesome – you should definitely consider what it means to get sunburnt in the Australia sun. It’s strong, and you can never really tell how bad it’s going to be until it’s too late. Put on sunscreen, stick to shady areas and keep hydrated. You can read more about sun safety and the impacts of sun damage here.