The 12 Stages Of Sunburn That Everyone Faces

So it seems the sun is here to stay – well, for the next few days at least. The consequence, of course, is the Irish predisposition to sunburn. We almost wear it like a badge of honour, whereby friends and family show you their ‘white bits’ (I am talking about ring marks, get your mind out of the gutter) It is not always easy to deal with, however. Here, I have compiled a 12 step program for anyone besieged with the heathen that is sunburn. We will get through this together.

Question: if the sun shone in Ireland and no one got burnt, did it really shine?



You can feel your skin starting to prickle and tighten. Rather than lather on more sun cream, you defiantly reach for the baby oil. You’ve Got This. This is otherwise known as DENIAL.



You look in the mirror after 6 hours of cooking your flesh only to be met with this view staring back at you. ‘Fuck!’ You feign anger, but you’re secretly a little bit pleased. ‘That’ll develop into a nice aul colour!’ you think.



Afterwards you hop into the shower. The water feels like little daggers scouring your flesh, so you turn down the heat. Nope. Still feels like torture.


You rub some aftersun over every inch of your body, promising yourself that this sunburn will NOT get the better of you. You enjoy the cool, refreshing sensation for all of 5 minutes before the pain comes back.



At this point you’re dying to get into bed so you can just lie still without wincing at your burnt flesh. You forget however, that bed sheets are a secret torture device in these situations. Any movement you make, no matter how minute, is met with the piercing burn of friction against your delicate, languid skin. Now you are beginning to feel ANGRY.



Despite pain hindering your movement, you toss and turn anyway. You can’t lie on your front because you’re boobs are burnt. If you’re a boy, other sacred parts are at risk of friction burn. ‘WHY do I have boobs/balls/arms/legs?!’ you wail. ‘I wish I was a stump.’


It’s 3am and you still can’t fall asleep what with your flesh being on fire. You contemplate sleeping in the fridge, filling the bath with aloe vera gel, and loading your duvet up with ice packs. ‘I will never lie out in the sun again’ you think. ‘From now on I will have a sun cream bath every morning. The sun is my enemy.’ Welcome to the BARGAINING phase, my friend.



The lack of sleep contributes to your current mood of apathy. Everyone is outside basking in the sun’s rays, sipping on ice cool beverages with little umbrellas in them, while you’re stuck inside licking off the organic yoghurt that you lathered yourself in earlier. This stage is also known as DEPRESSION.



‘Look at them, out there in the sun. Tanning. Who do they think they are?’ You feel smug that you won’t get skin cancer from overexposure to the sun, while the rest of your family will. You have are now accustomed to your situation, otherwise known as ACCEPTANCE.


You are now over the worst of it, your burns have lost their piercing sting and you begin eating the rest of your yoghurt instead of using it as a moisturizer. Everything is lovely again and you start to forget your trauma.



Until you run a brush over your scalp that is. ANGER quickly rises in your belly and you bounce the hairbrush against the wall. ‘Well fucking FUCK this!! MOTHERFUCKER!!’  You grab your sunglasses and defiantly march outside. The sun has fucked with you for the last time.


And the last step my friends, is SUNSTROKE.

Orla O'Callaghan
Article written by
Orla O'Callaghan, BA in English & Spanish, current MA in Journalism. Compulsive liar. (Honestly)

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