Please note: This article contains graphic images of a bad sunburn.
Last week I traveled to Nanaimo, British Columbia to take advantage of the free Visiting Students Program at Island Top Team and to visit my friend Sarah. While I was there, the weather was beautiful so Sarah and her family were kind enough to take me out on the boat with them to Ballenas Islands.
When I arrived in BC, I was as white as I could possibly be and stupidly waited to put sunscreen on until I felt I had gotten a bit of color. A bit of color turned out to be a pretty bad sunburn on my shoulder, unfortunately.
I had never noticed how often people grab my shoulder in jiu jitsu until my skin started peeling off. Then there was the issue of practicing guard retention against the leg drag.
Once that happened, any time fabric would come into contact with the skin, the fabric would stick and pull off skin, causing bleeding. Additionally, showering was torture and I had to maneuver myself to ensure the water wasn’t falling directly onto that shoulder.
I only had three training days in Nanaimo so I was left with the dilemma of how to train without damaging the skin further.
To treat this burn, I used Band-Aid Hydro Seal Extra Large Bandages, New-Skin Spray Bandage and Nexcare Tagaderm waterproof transparent dressings. For jiu jitsu, I recommend the New-Skin. If the New-Skin cracks as time goes on, I recommend covering the area with the Nexcare dressings. In total, it took about nine days before I was able to remove all dressings.
For more details and photos, continue reading.
POLYSPORIN PLUS DOUBLE RASHGUARD
My first attempt was a layer of polysporin and two rashguards. (FYI if you’ve never tried pain relieving polysporin, it hurts like a mofo when you rub it onto an open wound. It probably took me three or four minutes to rub it on.) I thought that perhaps the first rashguard would rub against the bottom rashguard, lessening the friction on my skin. That didn’t work at all.
After class, the inner rashguard was stuck and peeled off the skin, causing bleeding. I thought wearing a tank top would help to dry the shoulder out and eliminate that sticky surface. What happened instead is my hair stuck to the shoulder and I had to peel that off.
BAND-AID HYDRO SEAL EXTRA LARGE BANDAGES
The first bandages I tried were the Band-Aid Hydro Seal Extra Large Bandages. The Hydro Seal bandages are meant to be applied to clean, dry skin and they work to heal the wound by providing a waterproof barrier under which a white fluid is generated to cushion and heal. I found that this bandage remained in tact during class and in the shower.
These bandages worked very well in class to eliminate friction however they do not handle pressure well. On my way home to Nova Scotia, I was carrying a backpack that weighed about twenty-two pounds; when I removed my shirt, I saw that the white substance that had generated beneath the bandage had squeezed out and adhered my shirt to my skin, yet again.
I had to use two Band-Aid bandages to cover the shoulder and peeling them off of the raw burn was somewhat painful.
NEW SKIN SPRAY BANDAGE
Upon my return to Nova Scotia, I went back to the drugstore for other options.
New-Skin Spray Bandage is something I’ve used in the past for an elbow abrasion from the one time I had practiced ground and pound in MMA class in 2012. As you can see in the photos below, I had been unable to stop the abrasion from bleeding during training and so I tried New-Skin. Five days later, the abrasion had significantly healed and I was able to train without bleeding.
For the elbow, I did not use an additional bandage, only the New-Skin.
In this photo taken on Friday, June 22, 2018, I have applied the New-Skin spray to the wound for the first time. It stings like crazy so you may want to have someone else apply it for you. I sprayed one coat, let it dry and then sprayed another coat because I found the burn was still sticky.
After my shower the following morning, I added another coat. The New-Skin was the key to healing and being able to train with this sunburn, in addition to a waterproof dressing I applied before my training on Monday.
I have also used this spray bandage on my cat after he was cut in a fight with another cat and I found it healed very quickly. He concurred that it stung during application.
NEXCARE TAGADERM WATERPROOF TRANSPARENT DRESSING
If you have a rough surface, like a peeling burn or scab, it is more likely to come up at the edges and rip off. Although my New-Skin liquid bandage was smooth at first, it became very rough as it aged because I had applied several coats.
When it came time to train on Monday night, I applied two Nexcare Tagaderm waterproof transparent dressings to the area.
When I apply adhesives, I always rub them after application to smooth the dressing and to encourage a better “stick”, kind of like you would with KT Tape. For this bandage and the Band-Aid bandage, I asked a training partner to apply the dressing for me because it was hard to reach myself.
I found the New-Skin and Nexcare combination was best option for training with a sunburn. The New-Skin eliminated the stickiness of the open wound and the Nexcare bandage smoothed out the surface, preventing the friction of my rashguard against my skin. When I trained on Monday, there was still pain on contact however I incurred no further skin damage. The Nexcare bandages remained in tact through two showers, as well, before I removed them.
Last night, on Thursday, I was able to train without any bandages at all and had no issues.
This sunburn was one of the most disgusting issues I’ve had in a while. I’ve added photos for your viewing pleasure. The burn began on Sunday, June 17th and developed further on Tuesday, June 19th. I was able to remove all forms of bandage on June 27th without pain.
Throughout the healing process I also used Avon Intensive Healing & Repair Body Lotion over my whole body to help sooth the rest of my skin.
It’s very important to try and protect your wounds during training because if the scab continues to rip off and bleed, you can incur a permanent scar. This is a scar from training with a curling iron burn that I didn’t treat. Turns out the lower forearm is a very popular area to grab, as well.
I’m glad to get back to normal and train without issues. I hope if you ever find yourself in the same situation, my experience will help you to work through it as painlessly as possible.
Have you had success with other treatments? Tell us about it in the comments below!