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A Hard Lesson About Using Sunscreen On The Water

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February 04, 2013

A Hard Lesson About Using Sunscreen On The Water

By Kirk Deeter

Ask anyone who fishes with me, and they'll tell you that I am usually very smart about sun exposure. I wear hats. I wear long sleeves. I slather on sunscreen. I know the stakes, and have had many friends fall victim to the harmful effects of the sun.

But all it takes is one goof, and you can pay the price. I'm proof of that. When I was in Argentina, I slipped up and got fried. When I got home, my face was burned so bad it started to blister, and I had to go to the urgent care center to see the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics to fight off an impending infection. I looked like I nuked my face in a microwave oven on "high" for a couple minutes.

But I had worn sunscreen. So what went wrong?

Best the doc can tell, I was probably using expired sunscreen. Lesson number one: Check the dates on the lotions you use.

Not all sunscreens are alike, and some are plain worthless. Ask your doctor about the best choices. When in doubt use zinc oxide.

Lesson number 2: Apply your sunscreen at least a half hour before you get in the sun. If you wait until you're sweaty and the sun is beating down on you, it might not work.

And lesson number 3: Don't trust the sunscreen by itself. Wear a Buff, which offers 95% UV protection, as well as long pants and sleeves.

If you're going to get injured on a fishing adventure, odds are, you're going to do it to yourself by being careless. Sun poisoning is no laughing matter. Trust me, I learned the hard way.

Comments (11)

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from Koldkut wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I've fished with you twice and I recall you had sunscreen on before leaving the parking area both times. Can we see a "Stuff That Works - Sun Protection" blog in the future?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

The older I get the more I take care of myself. The days of fishing shirtless are long gone and my normal fishing attire includes a wide brim hat, buff, quality sunglasses and long sleeve shirt. But I still like a little sun on my legs because they are skinny, and nobody likes skinny white legs.

I got burned yesterday sitting in my treestand for 3 hours in 20 degree weather and high winds. The skin around my face and eyes are raw much like it is after a hard day of steelheading. Not sure if it's as dangerous as a sunburn but it is discomfort just the same.

BTW, it was the last day of bow season and had almost 40 deer parade past my stand as if they were saying good-bye, we'll see you next year. I was sitting on a tag but filling a tag just to fill a tag has never made much sense to me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from treelimit wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

You look like you are perpetrating the world's lamest stick-up in that photo.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Hope you are feeling better. Although, I can attest that the feeling in your face is probably very similar to that experienced by many a novice fly angler on a crowded stream. Get well and may I add, selfishly, at least it wasn't your fingertips.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

My mom is a retired science teacher and she had her students conduct an experiment one time with many brands of sunblock of different ages. Simple experiment, but the end result was that those over a year old were far less effective than their newer equivalent...they do break down over time. I used to keep sunblock for years before learning better. What I don't know, however, is the mechanism by which UV clothing blocks UV rays, does it diminish with washing/use?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from hermit crab wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

WVOtter, it blocks UV rays by simply shading your skin, like sitting under an umbrella in the shade would keep alot of the sun's rays from hitting you. Every fabric will block UV, but some do a better job. There's no special coating or anything in/on the clothes.

Old button up dress shirts from goodwill make some of the best fishing shirts. They're lightweight cotton and keep you cool, dry relatively quickly, are great about keeping the sun off you, and really cheap!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Thanks hermit. That was always my suspicion, but was starting to wonder if there was anything to the "gimic" shirts they put out there that claim (and charge for) more protection.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Been road hard and put up wet to many times. All those days of fishing and dove hunting and getting sun burned have take there toll on my hide. I've had several skin cancers removed and now go every 6 months for check ups. Invariably I have several pre-cancerous places frozen off. Being a southerner having a son tan all your life is just natural. But not anymore. I wear sun screen, hat, shirt and protect as much skin as I can.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I had stage 3 Melanoma in 2009. After 2 surgeries and chemotherapy, I can attest to the fact that it isn't something anyone else wants to experience. Use sunscreen with an spf of at least 15, and that blocks both UVA and UVB radiation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bosque Bob wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Were you by any chance taking antibiotics? I got an infection on a multi-day ski trip once, started taking some antibiotic that someone had in his med kit, and looked like what you described -- except maybe an hour in the oven.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I've been lucky, only one minor problem on my skin after 60 years outdoors.
My serious wake up call took place while on a Tarpon trip in the Keys. I left the dock in a Flats boat without my hat.
Three things I've always had while fishing outdoors have been a hat, sunglasses and long sleeves.That day I spent 9 hours on the flats with no hat. Fishing was good, so I didn't feel it until I got in. Sunburnt Scalp had been the one thing I'd never had. Damn! Now there is an extra hat in all my fishing bags.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from js246608 wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I'm about as white as Irish white boys get. Zinc Oxide sunblock every couple hours kept my face perfectly fine after a whole day on the water in Key West. Love that stuff.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from buckhunter wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

The older I get the more I take care of myself. The days of fishing shirtless are long gone and my normal fishing attire includes a wide brim hat, buff, quality sunglasses and long sleeve shirt. But I still like a little sun on my legs because they are skinny, and nobody likes skinny white legs.

I got burned yesterday sitting in my treestand for 3 hours in 20 degree weather and high winds. The skin around my face and eyes are raw much like it is after a hard day of steelheading. Not sure if it's as dangerous as a sunburn but it is discomfort just the same.

BTW, it was the last day of bow season and had almost 40 deer parade past my stand as if they were saying good-bye, we'll see you next year. I was sitting on a tag but filling a tag just to fill a tag has never made much sense to me.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hermit crab wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

WVOtter, it blocks UV rays by simply shading your skin, like sitting under an umbrella in the shade would keep alot of the sun's rays from hitting you. Every fabric will block UV, but some do a better job. There's no special coating or anything in/on the clothes.

Old button up dress shirts from goodwill make some of the best fishing shirts. They're lightweight cotton and keep you cool, dry relatively quickly, are great about keeping the sun off you, and really cheap!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I've fished with you twice and I recall you had sunscreen on before leaving the parking area both times. Can we see a "Stuff That Works - Sun Protection" blog in the future?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from treelimit wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

You look like you are perpetrating the world's lamest stick-up in that photo.

Sorry, couldn't resist. Hope you are feeling better. Although, I can attest that the feeling in your face is probably very similar to that experienced by many a novice fly angler on a crowded stream. Get well and may I add, selfishly, at least it wasn't your fingertips.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

My mom is a retired science teacher and she had her students conduct an experiment one time with many brands of sunblock of different ages. Simple experiment, but the end result was that those over a year old were far less effective than their newer equivalent...they do break down over time. I used to keep sunblock for years before learning better. What I don't know, however, is the mechanism by which UV clothing blocks UV rays, does it diminish with washing/use?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Thanks hermit. That was always my suspicion, but was starting to wonder if there was anything to the "gimic" shirts they put out there that claim (and charge for) more protection.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FSU70 wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Been road hard and put up wet to many times. All those days of fishing and dove hunting and getting sun burned have take there toll on my hide. I've had several skin cancers removed and now go every 6 months for check ups. Invariably I have several pre-cancerous places frozen off. Being a southerner having a son tan all your life is just natural. But not anymore. I wear sun screen, hat, shirt and protect as much skin as I can.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I had stage 3 Melanoma in 2009. After 2 surgeries and chemotherapy, I can attest to the fact that it isn't something anyone else wants to experience. Use sunscreen with an spf of at least 15, and that blocks both UVA and UVB radiation.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bosque Bob wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Were you by any chance taking antibiotics? I got an infection on a multi-day ski trip once, started taking some antibiotic that someone had in his med kit, and looked like what you described -- except maybe an hour in the oven.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from haverodwilltravel wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I've been lucky, only one minor problem on my skin after 60 years outdoors.
My serious wake up call took place while on a Tarpon trip in the Keys. I left the dock in a Flats boat without my hat.
Three things I've always had while fishing outdoors have been a hat, sunglasses and long sleeves.That day I spent 9 hours on the flats with no hat. Fishing was good, so I didn't feel it until I got in. Sunburnt Scalp had been the one thing I'd never had. Damn! Now there is an extra hat in all my fishing bags.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from js246608 wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I'm about as white as Irish white boys get. Zinc Oxide sunblock every couple hours kept my face perfectly fine after a whole day on the water in Key West. Love that stuff.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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