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Black People Can Get Sunburned Too

Updated on January 14, 2016

I know, crazy right? Not really. The sun does not care about your race, it beats down on everybody. Granted some folks with darker skin may never get sunburned. But here's my story:

I lived in Phoenix, Arizona for 3 years. I was a Nanny taking care of 3 boys so I spent a lot of time outside in that Arizona Sun. I'm originally from Mississippi, so I'm used to some hot summer days. After my first year in Arizona I started waking up with a swollen itchy face. I had no idea as to why. Before the end of the day the skin on my face would be raw, because it itched so bad. I couldn't help but scratch it. This happened quite a few more times before I actually went to the doctor for it. That morning was one of the worst. My eyes and cheeks were swollen so bad it looked like I had been in a fight with Mike Tyson. It was so bad that my boss quickly rushed me to one of those Urgent Care places. Well they ran multiple tests and everything came back negative. They had no clue as to what was wrong with me. They gave me a prescription for some allergy meds and told me to purchase some Benadryl cream. That didn't work. It happened again and I put some of that Benadryl cream on it and it felt like my throat was closing up. I quickly washed that mess right off of my face. I stuck with what I had been doing, which was applying Dr. Tichenors Antiseptic to my face. Burned like hell, but it healed my face quickly. After it healed I would apply fade cream to the dark areas. It was awful. Keep in mind this would happen like twice a month. If my daily regimen didn't consist of me using antiseptic on my face it probably would've happen a lot more.

It was a very painful 6 months before I actually found out what was really going on. Well my sister informed me of a court show she watched where this black girl stated that she would get sunburned quite often and my sister felt like that could be what was going on with me. I blew it off. Don't ask me why, I just did. I just could not grasp the fact that this could be sunburn. After all these years of playing outside and this kind of thing had never happened before. Let's just say I was ignorant to the fact that African Americans can get really bad sunburns just like our White counterparts.

Long story short. This happened again. The worst of the worst. I went out to eat with my boss's mom and his sister. They were treating me to lunch for my birthday. I wore a thin V-neck T-shirt and long pants. We spent all day out in the sun. We did a little sight seeing because they weren't from Phoenix so they had a few tourist spots they wanted to check out. We ate lunch at this little farm place they found online with outside dining. It was a really nice lunch. Well later on that night. My face, my chest and my arms were burning and itching soooo bad. By morning my chest looked like someone had thrown acid on me. It hurt so bad and it was still itching like crazy. That's when I knew it was Sunburn, because all of the skin that was exposed was burning, itching and raw. From that day forward, I started to wear sunscreen lotion. I have not had another episode since. Thank goodness. This was about 8 years ago and I think it was because the Sun is so strong out there. I never had this issue before moving to Phoenix.

I wanted to write this hub with the hope of helping someone of color who may be going through this and have no clue on what is happening to them. I have never been allergic to anything and this was just not familiar to me. A lot people can misdiagnose this as being an allergic reaction to something, when all it is is sunburn. Black people can get sunburned too.

Thank God I don't look like what I've been through!


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    • tarkishat profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      I'm sure you're right RonElFran. I was very confused about this, which is why it took me so long to figure it out. Never knew Flip Wilson did a coppertone commercial. They do make great sunscreen lotion. Lol! Thanks for the comment.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I would guess that more ultraviolet light makes it through the relatively thin atmosphere in Arizona than in Mississippi. I'm from Tennessee, and we never even thought about sunburn. But I do remember when Flip Wilson advertised Coppertone. That was an eye-opener to a lot of us!


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