Jun. 11, 2018

Sharing the Journey: Summer Sun Protection

The Sharing the Journey series is by people like you and for you. In their own words, we highlight the perspectives and personal experiences of people who struggle with lupus each day.

This month, we asked Sharing the Journey participants the following question:

How do you prepare for social events with so many of them being outdoors in the summer?

To get ready for the summer heat and being outdoors, I usually pack sunscreen. The sun tends to burn my skin very easily leaving my body to ache and joints to hurt. I try to cover myself with light clothes and apply sunscreen every 1 to 2 hours if I am in the sun.Kyra

Lots of sunscreen and/or cover up! I recently went on a South African safari.  It was hot, all my friends were in shorts and tank tops, but I had on long sleeves, long pants, and a hat.Kayla

Preparation is key when you know that you will be spending a great deal of time in the sun. As a college student, I have gone on several beach trips and attended my fair share of pool parties. Sunscreen is the first line of defense I always use. I use 100+ SPF lotion or spray because it is effective for a long time and in my experience, prevents sunburns quite well. Protective clothing is always an option. I try to find ways to style sun protective shirts and hats strategically when I am at the beach, so I can protect myself from the sun while remaining in style. I'll often tie shirts off at my waist or only wear a hat when I am out of the water. Once I am at the event occurring outdoors, I make a conscious effort to seek out shade. Many times, I have been able to steer most of my conversations and interactions under umbrellas or in the shade of trees. – Becca

I always use sunscreen! At least SPF 50+. – Chandra

Usually in the summer months I try to go out before noon or before the heat rises to avoid a flare up. Using sunscreen is a must. In the case where I'm caught in the midst of the heat, I make sure I have water on hand to stay hydrated and find shade as much as I can.Sabrina

The way I prepare for outdoors event is to make sure that if I have to be outdoors, I have a high SPF sunscreen. My skin is very sensitive to the sun, so I don't stay out in the sun too long. Water is my best friend because I'm always thirsty and feeling not hydrated enough. Finally, I wear clothing garments that are cotton. I am unable to tolerate a lot of other fabrics when outdoors in the sun. I notice I began to really get rashes from head to toe, which is very painful and uncomfortable. I have days when I’m just not able to participate in an outdoor event because the direct sun actually makes me very sick. – Sylvia

This is a hard one for me, as I seem to have a reaction to most sunscreens, but I know that sun protection is important, especially for people with lupus. I try to stay out of the sun as much as possible. I also try to use makeup products for my face that have SPF in them and then use regular sunscreen on other exposed areas, as my face seems to react the most to regular sunscreen. – Leslie

Since I have young children I cannot miss out on all the summer fun. So, SUNSCREEN it is!! And of course hats and umbrellas if I’m going to be in direct sunlight. Always being prepared with everything in my car is key!Roxi

Need to know facts about sun safety

Most everybody knows about the damaging effects of ultraviolet (UV) light, but for those with lupus the cells are much more sensitive to UV damage which can trigger a lupus flare (an increase in lupus symptoms).

There are many ways to stay safe from the sun and it’s important to find the methods that work best for you. Some tips for staying protected from the sun include:
• Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher that blocks both UVA and UVB
• Wear long sleeves, pants and wide-brimmed hats made of fabrics that protect you from the sun
• Plan outdoor activities for early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid peak sun hours

To learn more facts about sun safety, read this resource and speak with your doctor about the best ways to protect yourself from UV rays.