Warning: picture not for sensitive viewers.
Larochelle de Beer (13) from Rustenburg in North West went swimming with friends without wearing sunscreen and suffered serious skin damage.
Now, her mom, Maritsa, wants to warn other parents of the dangers of sun damage. Larochelle needed hospital treatment, including a skin graft, for the burn wounds on her back.
Maritsa, a paramedic, says she was working on Saturday 16 November. Larochelle, her sister Zandri (16) and some friends were in the pool at home.
It was a scorching hot day.
“They decided to cool down in the pool at around 11am. Larochelle had an inflatable boat and a ball they were playing with. When my husband got home from work at around 3pm, he told them they were getting sunburnt and to get out of the sun.”
George, Larochelle’s stepdad, works at a mine.
But the damage had already been done.
“That evening her skin was only a little red but she said it hurt badly. Larochelle has red hair and her skin is much more sensitive than her sister’s.”
Maritsa says Larochelle, a Grade 8 pupil at Bergsig Academy in Rustenburg, had burnt all over her body but it was worst on her back.
“The next morning, I asked a colleague to have a look. The skin on her back had formed thick, jelly-like blisters.” Her colleague applied Burnshield – gel bandages used on burn victims’ wounds.
“She was supposed to go to school the next morning [Monday] to write an exam but she complained of severe headache and nausea,” Maritsa says.
When they arrived at the doctor’s rooms, he said Larochelle needed to get to hospital. She’d sustained second-and third-degree burns.
“They had to take her into theatre where they scraped off the dead skin and grafted synthetic skin,” Maritsa says.
Larochelle spent two days in Netcare Ferncrest Hospital in Rustenburg.
“I think she’s learnt her lesson – we all have! I think Larochelle deeply regrets it. You know how kids can be – they want to be in the sun and have a tan.”
Maritsa warns everyone to avoid the sun between 12pm and 3pm. “If your kids are swimming, you need to reapply sunscreen every time they come out of the water, or make them wear a shirt.”
Until the wound has healed, Larochelle has to visit the clinic every second day for the wound to be cleaned to prevent infection.
“As a parent, I feel guilty . . . Maybe, if I’d been stricter . . .”