WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT. This article contains disturbing images that will make your coworkers say “WHAT ON EARTH are you reading??”
We can all admit we’ve played it pretty fast and loose with sunscreen in the past. We’ve applied too little, too late, and have suffered the painful, hot, blistery consequences. But perhaps no one has experienced the scalding shock of the sun’s retribution quite as terribly as Julie Nisbet, a British runner who was so severely sunburned after an ultramarathon that she had to go to an urgent care clinic.
Before I show you the images (which, fair warning, you cannot unsee) here’s what happened. Recently, Nisbet, an avid runner who has run 11 marathons, was participating in an "ultramarathon" — a race for people so badass, they run a full marathon and then think, “I’d like to keep going, actually.”
Nisbet’s ultramarathon was 69 miles, a knee-buckling distance she managed to run in 21 hours.
Presumably caught up in being a living, breathing testament to the power of human endurance, Nisbet skimped a little on the SPF. She started her 69-mile race at 7:00 a.m., but didn’t apply sunscreen until she reached her first pitstop at 10:00 a.m. There, she covered her face, body, and legs in SPF 30. She didn’t re-apply any more until the next pit stop, 27 miles later. When she finished, her legs were burning, and small blisters had begun to form on her calves. An urgent care clinic bandaged her up, but by the next day, the small blisters had grown into enormous, seeping, pus-filled sacs, pictures of which Nisbet shared on her Twitter, and that we share with you now, and hope you will continue to read us.
“The healing process has been painful,” Nisbet told BuzzFeed, “the burning and throbbing as the blisters have filled was a horrendous experience. The pressure in my legs when standing/walking has been also been agonizing at times. But a week on, it's all improving. The itching beneath the bandages has started, so hopefully I can have the bandages off completely in the next few weeks!"
For being so ubiquitous in the summer months, sunscreen is often misused; people need to use a lot more, a lot more often.
To enjoy the benefits of sunscreen, sunscreen should be applied thirty minutes prior to sun exposure, and then re-applied every 90 minutes. Experts recommend lathering on about a tablespoon on your face, and two ounces on your body.
Though my main take away from this story is that I need to dip my body in a vat of SPF 80, cover myself in sun protective clothing, and never leave the house for the rest of the summer, those of you brave souls who choose to venture out into the sunlight should be fine as long as you follow these tips.
And as for Nisbet, the enormity of what she accomplished prior to her devastating burn is just beginning to hit her.
"I haven't had time to be proud of the fact that I started, and finished, my first ever ultramarathon, completing a distance of 69 miles!"