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The difference a couple of weeks of sun can make

April 12, 2011
Rather bad self-portrait

From yesterday.

Hardly the best photo ever, but I’ve been pleased. My skin has continued to clear up from the cholinergic urticaria blotchiness and eczema patches (yuck!), and I’m starting to get something closer to what I’d recognize as my own skin tone back.* My face is feeling smooth again, and my nose has stopped flaking and peeling.

This is after about two weeks’ worth of sun exposure just to the point that I start to feel it (MED, I thought, but maybe not since it’s back to normal less than 24 hours later), in a British spring. That’s already taking about 2.5-3 times as long as it did starting out, illustrating a problem I’ve had with the interaction of my skin type and the lower UV intensity and frequent cloudy weather here. Cloudy days would be the reason it’s only been about two weeks’ worth now.

(And this reminds me that I really, really need to do another henna treatment. Rusty fading and visible roots, not so aesthetically pleasing.)

Starting out, from Sun, please!:

My default mood really has improved that much, too, between D supplementation and getting out in the sun and fresh air more. (Well, as fresh as you get in Greater London. 😉 )


* Though the quality of light at this latitude shifts it away from red toward yellow. (Yep, the same shift toward blue that gives the “Emerald Isle” effect. More pleasing on vegetation than coppery skin, oh my. :-|) The first couple of years living here, I kept thinking I was jaundiced from the Gilbert’s-alike, though my eyeballs were rarely yellowish. No, it was usually just sallowness from the light spectrum and any fading tan, though no doubt getting some sun is bringing the bilirubin levels down too. AFAICT, this color shift also makes fake tans look even more hideously orange, and they’re extremely popular anyway.

ETA: The Gilbert’s-alike was another thing that helped my mother repeatedly get assumed to be an alcoholic. Turn yellow every time you get sick, maybe also have blotchy facial flushing from the cholinergic urticaria, go to the doctor’s. :/ One time she actually got home-quarantined for suspected hepatitis A when she had the flu. And the liver enzyme profile variation (not just high bilirubin) we’ve got is another of those “you’re Indian, aren’t you?” things among reasonably observant medical professionals back home, so I suspect it may add to stereotypes beyond individual bad assumptions based on said stereotypes.

On the plus side, nobody in my family who turns yellow has had a heart attack–ever, to my knowledge–even though an awful lot of them smoke like smokestacks and are increasingly turning diabetic. (Yeah, I fit that description entirely too well.) “Serum bilirubin has been shown to be protective not only against cardiovascular and PVD and there is some evidence that it may be protective against some forms of cancer.”# It seems to be a powerful antioxidant. That’s probably worth feeling icky for weeks every time you get a cold!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2011 6:44 pm

    Yellow-ness can also be a sign of jaundice or vitamin K deficiency. When I had gallstones I turned a bright yellow because my gallbladder would moonbounce against my liver and my liver was like “YO STFU!”

    • urocyon permalink
      April 18, 2011 8:09 pm

      Interesting. I hadn’t known about the connection to vitamin K!

      My mom got jaundiced a lot with gallstones. (Which they overlooked for 10+ years, based on the old “fat, fair, and 40” rule of thumb–when Native/Hispanic women in particular have the highest prevalence and tend to get them early. At least they figured it out when it turned into an emergency. :/) It does make sense that you would get jaundiced from that. So far, I’ve been lucky with it. *crosses fingers* Sorry you’ve had problems!

      Thank goodness the yellowish thing living here doesn’t seem to be jaundice, like I assumed at first. (Though more UV exposure would help clear the bilirubin!) When I’ve been either back home or at about the same latitude in Spain, my skintone looked “normal” again.

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