A Painful Lesson

Being married for 5 years, my husband Jason and I had our anniversary trip to Bali for 2 weeks. It was definitely one of the most amazing and memorable trips we’ve had – beautiful beaches, fresh seafood, adventurous outdoor activities, and relaxing spas. However, I also learned a painful lesson from the trip, a really bad sunburn.

A bad sunburn? Yes, totally unprepared and surprising to us, especially during a trip that was supposed to be carefree and fun. I have always been practicing sun safety on a daily basis, applying SPF 30 sunscreen every morning before going to work. However, it was a completely different world when traveling to an exotic country with extensive sun exposure.

After applying some sunscreen in the morning, Jason and I decided to go on an adventure and take our first surfing lesson. The lesson was scheduled at 11:00 am, which was about 2 hours after the initial sunscreen application. The surfing lesson was fun – paddling in the sea, catching some waves, and experiencing tons of wipeouts for sure. Immediately after the lesson was over, we realized the biggest mistake we had made – neither of us had reapplied sunscreen prior to the surfing lesson! Even worse, the sunscreen lost its effectiveness in the water. Fairly quickly, our skin turned bright red and painful. We immediately put on Aloe Vera to soothe and moisturize our now sunburnt skin, but it was too late. We had been exposed under the sun for hours at noon when the sun is at its highest and most powerful. During a time of intense sun exposure and without the frequent use of sunscreen, I had ended up with a sun rash on my legs and Jason had blisters all over his neck. It took weeks of peeling and itching to recover.

Last week a colleague had sent me a link to a short video from the Enright Melanoma Foundation. This link brought me to an Enright Sun Safety Certification program online and gave me the opportunity to learn about good sun protection behavior. I wish I had taken this course before my anniversary trip to Bali, so that we would not have had such a serious sunburn! Some good practices I learned from the training include:

  • Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours
  • Use sunscreen more often if you swim or sweat
  • Stay indoors between 10:00 – 4:00 where possible as the sun’s rays are the strongest during this time period

I hope these good practices can help you for the next time you are out in the sun. While rainy days during vacation are annoying, sunburns during vacation are definitely worse!

Written by Jingjing Zhou

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