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Drew’s good post about the necessity of slathering himself with zinc got us talking about sunburn in Defector Slack. As it must, as a river runs to the sea, as salmon swim up the river to spawn, this led to the idea of ranking spots on the human body in order of how much it sucks to get them sunburned. Therefore: Here is a list of some human body parts on which a person vulnerable to sunburn might plausibly get a sunburn, ranked in order of how much it sucks to get a sunburn on them, from worst to least-bad.

  1. Ears
    These are the worst because sunburnt ears, despite representing something like 0.1 percent of your body’s total surface area, are the most ruinous to normal life out of all the plausible sunburnt body parts. With sunburnt ears, you can’t sleep on a pillow in less than abject misery, unless you’re the type of freak who sleeps facing straight upward like Dracula (or, I suppose, an even more deranged mutant who sleeps perfectly facedown). It’s a nightmare. And then the next day you’re bleary and exhausted, and also still sunburned. Also your ears look like flamin’ hot Doritos.
  2. The tops of your shoulders
    Likewise extremely bad, because (uh, like, tube tops or whatever notwithstanding) any plausible shirt or top will hang from this part of your body, and will irritate your sunburn for as long as you wear it. Even silk will feel scratchy and awful on sunburned shoulders, and cool breathable linen will feel like you are swaddled in broken glass. So there is no way to be a normal shirted person without constant discomfort. Also, if you slather aloe lotion or numbing goo on there, then your shoulders are all sticky and gross with that stuff and your shirt sticks to it. Also also, sunburnt shoulders make a hot shower, ordinarily one of life’s simplest and most straightforward of pleasures, uncomfortable and bad. It sucks butt!
  3. Tops of feet
    This makes shoe- and/or sock-wearing into hell. On the other hand, if you happen to have gotten your sunburn at the beach, you probably aren’t planning on wearing socks or shoes all that much.
  4. Back of neck
    This usually isn’t as painful a burn as, like, the ears or the underside of your forearms, I think because this is a part of the body that, for many people, gets blasted with as much sun as pretty much any other. But it’s still damn annoying, especially if you wear a necklace or a shirt with a collar of normal circumference, either of which will irritate your sunburn pretty much constantly. And it’s just sort of embarrassing to have a neck the color of a firetruck. Everybody can immediately tell that you failed Sun Interaction 101.
  5. Back of knees
    This shits lots of ass. Every time you bend your leg at more than, like, a 45-degree angle the skin crinkles up on the back of your knee, and the sunburn rages against it. Also any legwear that goes past your thighs and is less baggy than parachute pants feels awful on the back of your knees all day. Just a persistent, needling, infuriating experience.
  6. Ankles
    Your ankles are pretty sensitive. It’s just skin and bone down there.
  7. Side of torso/armpit area
    It can take some doing to get a sunburn here. I don’t recommend it!
  8. Scalp
    I hear this is pretty bad, for those who have lost coverage up there. Thankfully I have a full head of thick, lustrous hair, of the sort typically found on matinee idols, so this is not something I have to worry about. I guess I’m just built different.
  9. Front/back of torso
    Sucks! Particularly if, like mine, the front of your torso is pretty, uh, convex. It’s gonna have a shirt laying against it all day.
  10. Cheeks/forehead
    A particularly bad burn in these areas can make it hurt to smile, or to open your mouth to take a bite of food, or to yawn. That’s pretty rotten.
  11. Nose
    Whatever. It’s very apparent, which is embarrassing, but not as painful or as exposed to constant irritation as most of the above areas. And it’s pretty straightforward to smear some cooling lotion on your nose without having to worry that a shirt or a pair of pants is going to be rubbing against it for the next 12 hours.
  12. Lower legs
    These are pretty tough. They can take the heat.
  13. Being hit by a car
  14. Forearms
    I don’t give a damn about this. Burn my forearms off with a welding torch. Who gives a shit. It’s ridiculous that you even brought this up. Go to hell.