Solarcaine, Ahh.

My intention (one of many that paves the road to hell) was to write about artificial sweeteners and the ridiculous way our very real concerns have been placated by the chemists who make this stuff. If I sound a little biased, I am– aspartame is a known migraine trigger for me, and I resent the many ways it’s hidden in our food. But I don’t want to make that just a cursory piece. It’s an important topic for me, and important for your health as well, so give me another day or two to get all the facts lined up like ducks in a row.

In the meantime, I want to talk about Solarcaine. Three days ago I got a little overdone at the swimming pool.

I don’t actually remember the last time I was this sunburned.

It is has been impossible to conduct my normal life. I am very limited as to what I can wear for clothes– bras as you might expect, are right out. No weighty fabrics, nothing fitted. My husband, bless his heart, keeps resting a hand on my shoulder, which just about sends me through the roof.  I feel just a little nauseated. I have a big bottle of aloe vera gel which I have been liberally applying.  I took my friends’ advice for home remedies seriously:  vinegar soaked paper towels draped on the burns and left to dry; a shower of cold tea. And yes they provided some relief. Someone mention Noxzema (remember Noxzema?) but I think it might be off the market now, I don’t remember the last time I saw it.  Yes, I’ve been taking ibuprofen. And despite the advice found in too many content farm “articles,”  Cort-aid and the like are not to be used on sunburned skin. It says so right there on the package in 6 point type.

Then I remembered Solarcaine– the white plastic bottle with blue letters and a red circle around the blue cross, and I wondered if that was still being made or if it had been linked to something dreadful. It has not. And an online search revealed it at Walgreen’s. I walked right in to get a bottle. Even though it was close enough it could have reached out and touched me on my shoulder (ouch!) I had a hard time seeing it on the display. That was because I was looking for the classic white bottle. Now it’s green– with the addition of aloe vera. (Well, and yellow 5 and blue 1.) It didn’t matter to me, it still has Lidocaine as an active ingredient and I was very eager and enthusiastic about relief.

When I smoothed it on to my skin, I nearly swooned.  It was working, it was really working! This is the first night in many that I will be able to lie down comfortably in bed and sleep. Lately, I’ve been propped on pillows, gingerly turning this way and that when the discomfort grew too intense. Tomorrow, I might even be able to wear a full complement of clothing.

There was a surprise about the Solarcaine too. The scent of it must not have been affected by the addition of aloe vera leaf juice or green food dyes– because as I slathered it over my poor, red, stinging skin I was transported back to Crescent Beach, Florida, a little girl playing at the edge of the water. I remember the sand on the floor of the beachside cottage, and sitting cross-legged on the floor playing “Go fish.”  I remember my mother’s hands delivering relief to my pink pink skin. I hadn’t thought of those things, or the beach there on the northern Florida coast, well, for a long time. Nothing like a particular scent to send you back 45 years. I’m sure my mother was very careful with me– I remember the sunscreen rituals, and the brown bottle of Coppertone. But in those days, sunscreens were not what they are today, and even with what they are today– well, you can still get crispy. (Yes, I reapplied it! SPF 45)  Opening that bottle of Solarcaine was like meeting an old friend, one uniquely qualified to ease my pain.

Target number 57.  Steps 4334. For breakfast: blueberries with yogurt and granola, hard-boiled egg. Lunch: cup of watermelon, two-thirds of a cheeseburger, 6 pretzel crisps, a few grapes, half a brownie and an iced coffee. Dinner was a large green salad with 4 oz. New York Strip (thinly sliced) half an avocado, one hard-boiled egg, and a dozen cherry tomatoes.


5 thoughts on “Solarcaine, Ahh.

  1. I’m sorry about your sunburn! Ouch! No fun at all!

    I buy Solarcaine for my daughters. We also keep our aloe gel in the door of the refrigerator, so it’s extra cool when it gets applied. I have been told that a paste can be made out of crushed aspirin, which can be applied to severely burned skin, but I am afraid of Reyes Syndrome and just won’t try it on my children. I have soaked them in a tub full of tea before for sunburn relief and it worked pretty well … but cleaning the tub afterwards was not much fun.

    I can’t be out in direct sunlight any more. When I am out, I wear long sleeves and a hat with a wide brim. Some of the medications I take increase my likelihood of burning. I mention this because a great many of the medications they have tried for me are also used in the treatment of migraines. You might check with your pharmacist to see if the medication you use for migraines is one that has this side effect. My neurologist told me that I would probably still burn through increased sunscreen strengths and that the hat and sleeves were my best protection … not fun for poolside but okay for fooling around with my flowers and dogs.

    I hope you feel better soon!

  2. Sue, starting about age 12 I had a real sensitivity to sun and would break out in an awful rash, so I generally just didn’t go out in it, and that’s served me well for a long time. Even pools have been indoors. Sailing off PEI generally requires clothing because it’s a bit chilly. I have learned my lesson here, and will be much more careful the next time I am outdoors in the sun. Like you, I’m a bit leery on the absorption of aspirin through my skin, and would be especially so for children. I am glad that you are still out in the garden and with the dogs.

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