Okay, I should probably start thinking about sunscreen.
September 4, 2008 8:19 AM   Subscribe

What kind of "sunburn" is this? Does it happen to you?

I'm half black and half Italian, so I have medium brown skin, somewhere near the color of a paper bag. I grew up in California, outside or at the beach nearly all the time, no sunscreen, never been burned. (Yes, I know I should wear sunscreen anyway. I should do lots of things.)

Anyway, the last few times I've gotten lots of sun, I've gotten a burn that is not a burn and I am a little curious. Symptoms: no pain; little to no redness (though I get bruises that don't show all the time so it doesn't mean much); skin becomes rough and dry, then peels in little circles (no big sheets like my pale friends get, just little dots). Sometimes it itches when it peels, but not much. Any insight?
posted by dame to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, I one thing I left out: It doesn't usually show up for a few days. But it is in typical sunburn places and is definitely correlated with big sun doses, so I am certain that is what it is.
posted by dame at 8:28 AM on September 4, 2008

That's exactly how I peel, down to the several day delay. Only, being white as white can be, I get the burn as well (the peel happens when the burn goes away).
posted by gaspode at 8:44 AM on September 4, 2008

It sounds like a burn to me, and similar to sunburns I've seen in other people with darker skin - it may be that it's only started happening recently as your skin is drying as you age. Have you noticed drier skin apart from these incidents lately? It may be time to up your moisturiser and start wearing a low SPF sunscreen when you know you'll be in the sun.
posted by goo at 8:45 AM on September 4, 2008

That's exactly how I "sunburn", and I am darker than you (toffee-like). Either that happens or my skin becomes dark reddish and irritated, stays that way for a day, and then the discoloration and irritation go away without any peeling.
posted by thisjax at 9:38 AM on September 4, 2008

Yes, I know I should wear sunscreen anyway. I should do lots of things

Actually, the science on sunscreen preventing skin cancer is mixed.
posted by troy at 10:46 AM on September 4, 2008

Sounds like a skin fungus. You don't tan through it and the little patches peel off, leaving white spots. I had something like this for years. Then my sister turned me on to a pricey shampoo called Nizoral (or a spelling close to this) that her doctor recommended for the same condition. Scrub up all over with this stuff in the shower - I was doing it before and after being in the sun, and the spots totally disappeared. Now I just do it occasionally as a booster, and I gotta say, I am impressed with the results!
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 2:12 PM on September 4, 2008

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