SUN Threat

Questions, answers, tips & tricks for newbies and veterans alike
kasuncion6
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SUN Threat

Post by kasuncion6 » Tue May 10, 2005 12:19 pm

hello,

my friend and i are thinking of going to burning man this year. it will be our first time.

my friend has very sensitive skin and our decision kind of depends on how high the threat of the sun is.

can anyone please share from experience - how much damage does your skin suffer during/after burning man?

any advice on how to deal with it (aside from sunscreen and staying in shady places)?

thanks,

kara

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sputnik
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Post by sputnik » Tue May 10, 2005 12:23 pm

You know how the weather service issues ultra-violet advisories? I think that Black Rock City is always at an 11 out of 10, except at night. So, just sleep all day and play all night. You'll blend in fine with the vampires at Spike's.
It's going to be alright.

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Post by robotland » Tue May 10, 2005 12:30 pm

Obviously the easy thing to do would be to become noctournal- Not so hard to do in BRC, where there's good stuff goin' all night. If you immolate instead of tan then you already know the basics- Sunscreen, coverings, hydration- You'll be at a high elevation relative to many places, without naturally occurring shade, so bring an umbrella. Traditional Bedouins cover themselves completely, which seems counterintuitive in such a hot environment, but it's easier than making sure you haven't missed a spot with the sunscreen. Use your head and you'll be fine. Remember Mad Dogs and Englishmen- Only THEY go "Out in the Midday Sun".
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Post by robotland » Tue May 10, 2005 12:35 pm

....I just had to go fetch the Noel Coward- It's tres apropo:




Mad Dogs and Englishmen


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
by Noel Coward

In tropical climes there are certain times of day
When all the citizens retire to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It's one of the rules that the greatest fools obey,
Because the sun is much too sultry
And one must avoid its ultry-violet ray.
The natives grieve when the white men leave their huts,
Because they're obviously, definitely nuts!


Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,
The Japanese don´t care to, the Chinese wouldn´t dare to,
Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one
But Englishmen detest-a siesta.
In the Philippines they have lovely screens to protect you from the glare.
In the Malay States, there are hats like plates which the Britishers won't wear.
At twelve noon the natives swoon and no further work is done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.


It's such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see,
that though the English are effete, they're quite impervious to heat,
When the white man rides every native hides in glee,
Because the simple creatures hope he will impale his solar topee on a tree.
It seems such a shame when the English claim the earth,
They give rise to such hilarity and mirth.
Ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo hoo hee hee hee hee ......


Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The toughest Burmese bandit can never understand it.
In Rangoon the heat of noon is just what the natives shun,
They put their Scotch or Rye down, and lie down.
In a jungle town where the sun beats down to the rage of man and beast
The English garb of the English sahib merely gets a bit more creased.
In Bangkok at twelve o'clock they foam at the mouth and run,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The smallest Malay rabbit deplores this foolish habit.
In Hong Kong they strike a gong and fire off a noonday gun,
To reprimand each inmate who's in late.
In the mangrove swamps where the python romps
there is peace from twelve till two.
Even caribous lie around and snooze, for there's nothing else to do.
In Bengal to move at all is seldom ever done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
Howdy From Kalamazoo

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Post by AntiM » Tue May 10, 2005 12:44 pm

Mindfulness and common sense will prevent most sunburns.

I have very sensitive skin, so I use a combination of sun blocking products with good spf, from lip balm, to heavy lotion, lighter stuff for my face, and a spray-on sport waterproof sunblock for touch ups. I keep the spray and lip balm with me all the time in the daytime, they stay on the bike.

Find your preferred brand through the summer, don't start with unfamiliar sinscreen on the playa.

Do remember the big-ass shade hat with chin strap, dark goggles for day, and light long sleeved clothes. If you burn too easily and want to do nekkid, think early morning and evening, not noon. Do not forget to lotion the backs of your heels and the backs of your hands. And ears. And nape.

One of my nieces burned her buns while riding her bike; she wore a lace short thongy thingy and forgot to lotion her bum. She was not a happy camper!

Larry got his worst burn setting up the morning we got there, we'd just hit the playa and were trying to get shade up before it got hot. 10 a.m. and he was burned on his achilles tendons and shoulders, we hadn't put on sunscreen before we began setting up. Now we keep some lotion in the jeep. I burn my arms and face on the trip across Nevada. Otherwise, I only get a bit brown, no burns. Larry stays blinding white except for his trucker tan. I also wear shoes and socks, I burned my feet through my sandal straps one year, owie.

I'm overly aware and paranoid as my uncle died of skin cancer (heck, he had colon cancer too, it was just a matter of which one got him first)

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Post by robotland » Tue May 10, 2005 12:57 pm

AntiM wrote: Find your preferred brand through the summer, don't start with unfamiliar sinscreen on the playa.
Oh, you'd need SPF A MILLION if you wanted to block sinners out THERE!

One of my Kamp Kalamazoo brethren scorched his heiny the other year...spent the first part of the long trip home on his belly across the back seat! Ayiyi! My weird green skintone seems to protect me out there....that, and the thick layer of dust. Best make sure it's sunblocked if it doesn't see the sun the other 358.
Howdy From Kalamazoo

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Post by dragonfly Jafe » Tue May 10, 2005 2:23 pm

I am also sensitive - I use a high spf (40+) in the morning before I leave the tent (after JOTs, that is...) and find that lasts all day unless I get too wet.

For me, bigger issues are lips chapping and "Playa skin". Chapped lips you can fight by constant balming (and these make great gifts BTW as lots of people forget them and are hurting 1-2 days in). Playa skin takes constant vigilance (and cleaning) to avoid.

The Playa is alkalai, and reacts with the skin of many people to form painful little scales. Any exposed contact points, like fingers and toes, that get Playa dust on them can be affected (other areas are less commonly affected). Read up on how to avoid this as well as the sunburn threat, as not too many people are aware of this unless they have been to Burningman before.

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Post by blyslv » Tue May 10, 2005 2:31 pm

If you go nocturnal (which isn't a bad idea) bring plenty of warm clothes.
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Post by HughMungus » Tue May 10, 2005 3:22 pm

dragonfly Jafe wrote:The Playa is alkalai, and reacts with the skin of many people to form painful little scales. Any exposed contact points, like fingers and toes, that get Playa dust on them can be affected (other areas are less commonly affected). Read up on how to avoid this as well as the sunburn threat, as not too many people are aware of this unless they have been to Burningman before.
I have a pair of sandals I wore out there last year that I put on recently and I got the (painful) scales. So on that note, what's the best thing to do if you DO get the dust on your feet while out there? Simple washing or something else like moisturizer?
It's what you make it.

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Post by AntiM » Tue May 10, 2005 3:38 pm

Bring a little lemon juice or white vinegar to add to the water to rinse your feet, apply a good moisturizer, and put on clean cotton socks. We use the water drained from the cooler for foot soaks (warning if it is icy, WAIT! I'm still shrieking at larry for that one).

Larry likes Bag Balm, I prefer some gunk I got at a beauty supply place and have forgotten the brand. Extreme pedicure lotion of some type.

Playa dust does not stick to bag balm on the skin. Why? So weird.

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Post by headquarters » Tue May 10, 2005 4:13 pm

DallasPlaya wrote:
dragonfly Jafe wrote:The Playa is alkalai, and reacts with the skin of many people to form painful little scales. Any exposed contact points, like fingers and toes, that get Playa dust on them can be affected (other areas are less commonly affected). Read up on how to avoid this as well as the sunburn threat, as not too many people are aware of this unless they have been to Burningman before.
I have a pair of sandals I wore out there last year that I put on recently and I got the (painful) scales. So on that note, what's the best thing to do if you DO get the dust on your feet while out there? Simple washing or something else like moisturizer?
go with the little amount of vinegar and i use this stuff called burts bee's foot cream. it's pretty power house and it works REALLY well on cracked out feet. http://www1.burtsbees.com/webapp/wcs/st ... y_rn=10001

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Post by falk » Tue May 10, 2005 5:26 pm

Image

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Post by Isotopia » Tue May 10, 2005 6:24 pm

Very nice Falk. Very practical.

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Post by ThePikey » Tue May 10, 2005 7:03 pm

I'm a redheaded Irish type, and I didn't burn until the last day. Why? I'd already started packing my stuff and couldn't find my 45spf. Also used a little lip balm with some spf too. And was careful to lounge about under cover of shade.

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Post by othereye » Tue May 10, 2005 8:34 pm

Hey, Falk? Is that Jessica McClintock by any chance? That looks INSANELY similar to my wedding dress (which, oh yes, is coming to the burn). It would be a riot to find out the exact dress had already been there and survived!
"Sometimes, honey, you just have to look reality in the eye and say..... 'what happened to your other eye, dude?!'" - Angela Waversak, as quoted on eriswerks.org

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Post by falk » Wed May 11, 2005 12:41 am

othereye wrote:Hey, Falk? Is that Jessica McClintock by any chance? That looks INSANELY similar to my wedding dress (which, oh yes, is coming to the burn). It would be a riot to find out the exact dress had already been there and survived!
Never got her name. I saw the dress and had to take a picture. She told me that one of the boutique camps had given it to her the night before. Except for a little dirt on the hem, it was pristine.

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Post by Janka » Wed May 11, 2005 5:55 am

I have a very white skin naturally and usually burn easily in climates like the playa's. I did not burn in BM, though, for the same reason as others have mentioned already: I stayed out of the damn sun. I wore long-sleeved clothes most of the time (thin, light-colored cotton is a life saver); stayed in shade structures most of the high-sun hours, never went out in the sun without a wide-brimmed hat, used sunblock of mild protective factor on my face, neck and other stuff in shade but exposed, and heavy-duty sun block on any truly exposed bits of skin.

(I hate the touch of any creamy lotions on my skin, and it seems you do not get the high pf blocks in my preferred oily bases, so I tried to minimize my usage of high pf sunblock with clothing, but of course that was not always possible. For example, covering my hands when moving about in the sun was not really practical or comfortable for me. And even if you stay in the shade and wear a hat etc, you still get some sun from reflections from the playa, that's why the low-pf block on face etc.)

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Skin problems

Post by Scubapro » Wed May 11, 2005 6:11 am

This is my first time at BM but not the the first camping in the desert. The advice given so far about the alkaline should be heeded. I already plan to do a lot of washing and moisturizing.
Many people seem to make the mistake that just because they are under shade, they will be shielded from the sun. Also remember that the sun reflects off the surface and you should prepare for this as well. Being nocturnal with your activities is sage advice. I have ventured out in mid-day sun, but also took several precautions such as always sipping on water, using lip balm and sunblock, taking it slow with lots of sit on my butt rest stops. I was a rock hound and had to do most of my work during the day. Just remember to stay out of the sun when it is at its peak.
For BM, you'll see me dressed during the day as an Arabic. The clothing makes a lot of sense and it wouldn't be a bad idea to immulate to some degree. I won't be depending completely on my hat to keep my head from sunburning, I will be wearing a white cloth underneath as well. It will be a little hotter, but well worth the sunburn avoidance.
My wife is of Celtic persuation and I will very concerned about her. Most likely I'll be like a fussy old hen with her. I know only too well what the sun can do to a person. I am of a darker complected persuation and won't have too much of a problem, although I have made it a point to no longer sun worship.
I have always loved the desert and all of its beauty. On the playa, you will find different challenges than normal because of the alkali. This is my biggest concern. It is a slightly caustic substance that will require constant attention. I won't be wearing sandles unless I am at "home".

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Post by sputnik » Wed May 11, 2005 6:16 am

Everyone reacts differently to the playa dust. I, for one, had no trouble at all with open sandals, and I wore them most of the week. I most have acidic qualities that neutralize the alkali.
It's going to be alright.

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Post by AntiM » Wed May 11, 2005 6:52 am

The playa's high altitude too, there's folks who handle sun well at sea level and then get crispy at BM.

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Post by dragonfly Jafe » Wed May 11, 2005 7:28 am

sputnik wrote:Everyone reacts differently to the playa dust. I, for one, had no trouble at all with open sandals, and I wore them most of the week. I most have acidic qualities that neutralize the alkali.
This is apparently true for a portion of the human race (~20%?) - you will see plenty of people who go barefoot or with just sandles. Some of these people are doomed (but do not yet know it). Some will be just fine. I have heard that if your skin is oily, you will have less problems than if your skin is dry. Just becuase someone else does it, does not mean you should (or can) do it.

My first years I wore 2 pairs of socks with old army boots (painted to be Playific). But that gets heavy. Last year, due to the wind, I didn't leave camp for the first few days, so I experimented with using 2 pairs of socks and sandles. I found that by using a clean wool insole between your feet and the sandle each day (cleaning out at end of day and air drying for a day) worked very well. And if they get "gunky" while away from camp, merely turn them over for a "fresh" surface. I had the fewest problems ever with Playa foot (and the sandles are SO light & airy compared to army boots!) I used 3 pair of wool insoles last year (at $3 per pair, a bargain). These will be re-used this year.

Which leads to my #1 advice: bring LOTS of socks. I bring 4-6 pair of socks for each day (dollar store brand). 2 pair go on in the morning (after a thorough foot cleaning), those get retired at noon (with another cleaning). Then when I go to bed, a final cleaning (followed by lotion), and a final pair as I go to bed (to hold the lotion in and prevent my sheets from getting yucky).

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Post by Janka » Wed May 11, 2005 7:54 am

you will see plenty of people who go barefoot or with just sandles. Some of these people are doomed (but do not yet know it). Some will be just fine.
My best-beloved went around in sandals last year, and avoided playa foot. Each night, before going to sleep, he would wash his feet (in a basin, which was rather handy), and applied to them about a ton of heavy-duty foot cream. Not just some general moisturising cream, but cream meant specifically for treating dry feet. His feet suck up that stuff like I don't know what, it was amazing. If he felt his feet were dry or whatever, he sometimes repeated the treatment in the morning, or soaked his feet in cool water during daytime and applied the moisturiser after that.

I intend to try that myself the coming BM, too, at least some days. Last year, I wore just socks and tennis shoes and was fine, even though those were more than little dusty most days.

I definitely agree that if you use socks, you need ridiculous amounts of them. Washing the dust off the socks on the playa is also possible, though, just using clean water without any detergents. They do not get actually clean that way, but they do get dust-free and non-alcalic enough to help in playa foot prevention.

Ouch, my feet get playa-tingly from just thinking about this. :)

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Post by theCryptofishist » Wed May 11, 2005 10:46 am

Reiterate: At 4000' above sea level you get less of the uv light blocked.
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Post by Isotopia » Wed May 11, 2005 3:30 pm

Reiterate: At 4000' above sea level you get less of the uv light blocked.
Yep. And if the sun goes nova during the event you're gonna be totally fucked with the sun screen thing.

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Post by Lassen Forge » Wed May 11, 2005 4:15 pm

Couple disjpointed thoughts coming on...

Regarding lip balm, Burt's Bees works pretty good for me, but does anyone know aything better? I still get chappy after a few days. (Heck, I get that in the Sierra's in the spring!!)

Thought 2... Take WHite vinegar, and use a splash (not too much, tho) in your wash water (like sunshower or whatever). ANything to neutralize the alkali Helps. I also found a water-soluble moisturizer (can't remember the name of it) that mixes and won't separate out of the water, a squirt of that in a few gallons (again, not much) makes the dif. between nite and day.

On that same subject - if you're a womyn, get a bidet bottle (Wally Greens had them last I looked) or something small with a spritzer top on it, small enough for a butt pack or whatever, and use the same mix in it (few drops vinegar, few drops moisturizer) - your nether reigons will be immensely grateful!

Finally, and this is what I do, YMMV and I'm crazy anyway, but burned enough you prepare carefully... I start doing sun exposure in April. That way when I get outside at altitude anywhere I can go and not end up in pain because of sunscreen failure (like my Yosemite trip 3 years ago, where I too did a sandal strap (and tanktop) burn - Doubleplusouch!!!) or get 2nd degree burns (did that too when I was an early-20-something kid at Northshore, and ended up in a hospital overnite and off work for way too long - couldn't walk, could barely wear clothes!). Doesn't mean I don't use Sunscreen (SPF 40 usually) but if I get sweaty or rub it off or wash it off I may get a bit red but I won't fry. That northshore trip taught me a lot, and it scared the hell out of me.

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Post by samdu » Wed May 11, 2005 4:22 pm

last year was my first on the playa, and i'm en extremely fair redhead. i discovered a whole new level of sun-related problems. even with an SPF 45 sunscreen liberally applied and re-applied throughout the day, i developed welts, like hives, on my upper chest and arms. so, i kept them covered after that- white cotton gauze shawls, or my pretty tie-dyed silk shawl, covering all parts of my upper body, seemed to help a lot. be really careful- my doc said it seemed that i was developing an actual sun allergy. it happened again after 2 hours in the shade with SPF 45, at wet-n-wild, so it wasn't a one time thing. i strongly recommend that you have something to cover exposed areas with if you're out during the daytime! the sun is brutal out there, and if you're sensitive, you may have scarier things to worry about than a burn!

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Sage advice from you all

Post by Scubapro » Fri May 13, 2005 5:10 am

One thing comes out from reading the recent posts is that everyone is unique in how their bodies handles the sun and the alkali. Being a first time burner, I will take heed of the advice given in these posts. Like stated in an earlier post, I have done a lot of camping in the desert in the past but I'm not stupid enough to think my body is capable of taking the same punishment now that I'm older. Although it hurts my male ego to admit I've gotten older, prudence dictates that I take some precautions.
The post about bringing all of the socks along was already in my line of thinking, but I think I'll bring along some extra pairs. I used to change my socks twice a day not only in the desert, but also while hiking.
I have never had too much love wearing sunblock since it usually makes me feel warmer. I am thinking about some alternatives that won't require me to wear it. Like we all will need to do is to be very, very aware how our bodies are reacting to the elements. Taking things a little slowly is always good advice. Play hearty when the sun sets, though.
I will be conveying some of your advice to my "Celtic" bride particularly since she is so very sensitive to the sun. I truly hope she will be able to survive this adventure. We have an agreement that if one of us wishes to leave BM for any reason, that we would wait 24 hours before we go. However, when it comes to health there won't be any "incubation period" I will observe. We will leave immediately. I love this lady more than myself and I don't wish her to suffer on my account.

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Post by AntiM » Mon May 16, 2005 7:20 am

Lip Balm: I do love Burt's Bees, but it has no SPF. Blistex has a Complete Moisture that's good, SPF 45 I think, plus several other tasty choices. Hercepcin-L is really good if you are prone to cold sores, but it tastes funny. Punch a hole in the cap and put it on a string, keeps it handy and easier to use more often.

Favorite cotton keep-sun-off clothes:
salwaar kameez, the long tunic over pants
yukata, summer kimono
my hospital jonnhy
vintage ruffled white cotton nightshirt

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Post by othereye » Mon May 16, 2005 7:42 am

So what about taking, say, 6 pairs of socks and every night putting a pair in a baggy in the cooler and soaking them in vinegar/water overnight? Put on a normal pair in the AM, and then switch to the soaked pair mid-afternoon you've got a playa-foot-preventing-frosty-cool-treat?

Now if only I could get to the point that I could stand the smell of vinegar without gagging....
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Post by AntiM » Mon May 16, 2005 11:03 am

You can use lemon juice instead of vinegar.

Persoanlly, wet socks give me blisters. I like a nice soak and then dry socks. I take 12~14 pairs, all colorful cotton.

But then, I over-prepare.

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