A NEWLYWED mum has suffered horrific sunburnt legs – even though she was sat under thick clouds on her honeymoon cruise.
Shocking pictures show the extent of the second-degree burns Nicola Law endured, and now the 47-year-old is warning others of the potential dangers of sunburn even in overcast weather.
Nicola hadn't worn cream due to the grey clouds while sitting on the top deck of her cruise ship, but the shins on both her legs burst into blistering burns.
The 47-year-old claims the pain was the "worst she's ever experienced" – even though she's been through two hip replacements and childbirth.
The new bride had left suncream in her bag in the cabin after heavy cloud cover and choppy winds cancelled the cruise's exertions in the Bahamas, West Indies, for the day.
Nicola and husband Stephen Law sat on the top deck chatting with pals without sun cream on – with the mum-of-one's "celtic complexion" leaving her vulnerable to sun damage.
When Nicola woke up the following morning, she immediately collapsed after getting out of bed as shooting pains made her knees buckle and left her in the 'worst pain ever'.
Enormous blisters erupted over both her shins which were so big the outlines were visible through her jeans.
The terrified mum was forced to burst the blisters before walking through airport security for fear that security guards would pull her to one side to find out what she had in her trousers.
The wounds produced so much liquid that Nicola's "shoes were squelching" and she was making "puddles" so had to buy sanitary pads to soak up the moisture during the six-hour flight.
She was in so much agony she needed a wheelchair to get through Dublin airport once she landed.
But the complacent mum still dismissed it as regular sunburn – until Stephen, 49, was urged by a pharmacist to take his wife to A&E immediately.
Now Nicola is speaking out about her ordeal to warn others to take proper precautions in the sun – and to not underestimate sun damage through the clouds.
Nicola, from Lisburn, Northern Ireland, said: "I've had two full hip replacements and given birth naturally, and the pain from this was 10 times worse than any of them. I've never known pain like it. It was so intense.
"I've been sunburned loads of times because I fry dead easily. Usually I do the aftersun and usual moaning and groaning and tell myself off for being stupid. But never has it been that bad.
"My husband had to help me stand up to go to the toilet or anything. Once I was moving I was okay but standing up when the pain went right up your leg, I buckled a few times because it was that bad.
"The blisters got so big that you could see the outline of them through my trousers.
"By this stage I just wanted to go home and I was afraid of the airport security either thinking I was hiding something or not letting me fly.
'MY LEGS WERE JUST THROBBING'
"I burst the blisters, which I found out afterwards was the worst thing I could've done. The liquid that poured out of me, my shoes were squelching. I was leaving puddles when I was walking.
"I ended up going into a shop in the airport and buying a pack of sanitary towels and a pair of long socks and putting the sanitary towels inside the socks to catch the fluid from my legs.
"That flight was the longest, most intense flight of my life. It was terrible. We were cramped in one place and my legs were just throbbing.
"I had to be wheelchaired off the plane to the front of the airport to get my lift because by this point I couldn't physically walk."
Doctors diagnosed Nicola with second-degree burns and even contemplated using skin grafts to repair the damage.
But luckily, after four days in the burns unit and doctors cleaning and changing her wounds daily, she was allowed to return home on March 24 2018 without surgical intervention.
Nicola claims she has kept her legs covered up ever since and applies factor 30 sun cream as often as she can – but still feels guilty for ruining the end of her honeymoon.
Nicola said: "The consultant asked me how long I had been in the sun and he said he couldn't believe how much damage I had done in such a short space of time.
"He would've thought that I had fallen asleep in it or been out in it for hours. He said it was because I was on the top deck so I was closer to the sun.
"We were out at sea so we had the salty air and the breeze coming at you as well. He said that's actually worse than being in the glaring sun. I didn't know that at the time. I thought because it was cloudy [I would be fine].
"I knew once I was on the beach I would need the sunscreen, but because the weather was so bad and it was so cloudy and windy, I thought I don't need it yet so I will put it on later as it warms up.
"It was ignorance and stupidity on my part. I still feel guilty now because I feel like I ruined the last half of our honeymoon.
"My legs haven't seen daylight since then, which was two and a half years ago. I'll never take that risk again. Even though they've healed, in cold weather they will sting.
"That's a good sign apparently as it means the nerves are still alive in my legs."
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