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Skipping SPF Can Lead to Second-Degree Burns

A Cautionary Tale About Going Sunblock-Free

My skin almost hurts from reading this Salon article about the dangers of sun exposure. Writer Sarah Stanfield, a fair-skinned student in Ecuador, wound up with a scorching sunburn after tanning for four hours without sunblock. She writes:

Quito rises about 9,000 feet above sea level. At this elevation, the atmosphere is thinner, making skin more vulnerable to the sun's rays. I knew this, but convinced myself the clouds in the sky would temper the intensity of the sun. So I stretched out next to the pool with a Toni Morrison novel, rising four hours later with legs the color of smoked salmon.

Stanfield couldn't walk for days, then developed second-degree burns and leaking blisters the size of quarters. The ordeal sounds terrible — but as a fellow member of the "We Don't Tan, We Burn" club of pale people, I'm surprised that someone so fair-skinned would venture into the sun without protection. Sheer folly! Let this be a cautionary tale the next time you're thinking of skipping SPF. (Remember: oozing blisters.)

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