Avoiding Blisters in the Sun

Sunburn can quickly become the worst part of your summer marching experience. These tips will help you prevent—and heal—the agony of the burn.

Summer is finally here. For many people, that means it’s time to hit the beach. For members of marching bands and corps, it’s also time to hit the field—whether for camp, rehearsal or competition.

When out in the sun, always remember to protect your skin. Neglecting it can cause damage and even lead to skin cancer. More than 1,000,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

The number one rule for protecting your skin is sunscreen. Use one with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30 and use it liberally. By the time you’re done applying sunscreen, you should have used enough to fill a shot glass. Reapply every two hours.

No sunscreen is waterproof or sweat-proof; water-resistant ones only last 40 to 80 minutes in the water. For people that don’t like the greasy feel of sunscreen, look for a “dry touch” label. In all cases, be sure to wear a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

Other Tips

• Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. Of course, that’s impossible with corps rehearsal, but do your best on the off days.

• Wear lighter-colored, non-cotton clothing, which don’t absorb heat and UV rays as much as dark colors.

• If you are taking medications, read the labels carefully. If it says to avoid the sun, be sure to do so as the medication might react to the sun’s rays.

• Wear a hat to protect your head and shield your face.

• Drink black tea to help soothe sunburns with its tannins.

Treating Burns

We all make mistakes, though, and sometimes get sunburns. The first step is to identify what kind of sunburn it is.

• First-degree sunburns are typical ones; they’re red or pink compared to your normal skin color. Your skin is often too painful to touch and may peel. These burns can be treated with aloe vera or any other treatment lotion. They usually heal within a week. Take ibuprofen if the pain is too much.

• Second-degree burns are often painful and look red and blotchy with blisters. To treat them, apply cold compresses to the skin and do not break the blisters. Cover the burn with a gauze pad loosely and once again take ibuprofen for pain. Do not apply home remedies or ointments. If the burn is larger then two to three inches, see a doctor who can prescribe antibiotics.

• A third-degree burn is the most painful and less common, but if you do happen to get one, be sure to see a doctor immediately. Third-degree burns can cause large blisters to form, and they result in lower cell damage.

So be careful when going out in the sun; just don’t forget to have fun!

About the Author

Alexandra Atienzo is an intern at O2 Max, a fitness club for teens in Santa Monica, Calif. For more information about the gym, visit www.O2maxfitness.com.