Sharing the Journey: Sun Protection & Lupus
The Sharing the Journey series is by you and for you. In your 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:
Summertime heat and sun exposure can often trigger flares in people living with lupus. However, there are ways to manage this so that you can still enjoy some summer fun. What steps do you take to protect yourself and prevent flare ups?
I'm lucky enough to be working at an outdoor theatre this summer, so I am in the sun all the time! However, I do a lot of things to protect myself from a lupus flare. First, I try to find any bit of shade I can while outside. If I'm not required to be in the sun for a certain activity, I will stick to the shade. Second, I use sunscreen every morning with 100 SPF to start the day with a good, thick layer of protection. Third, I reapply sunscreen every few hours, especially if I've been in the water or sweating it off. Fourth, I give myself extra rest. When I'm working in the sun. I have to get extra hours of zzzzz's or I will have a lupus flare. I have learned by experience! - Becca
The steps I take to protect myself and prevent a flare are to make sure I use sunscreen with a higher SPF before I head outside. I also use a hat or a cap to protect my face. If I'm at the beach I like to use a beach umbrella and a rash guard. Other times I go outside when the sun goes down. – Jaime
I wear sunscreen. I also try to wear clothes that cover most of my body. I wear a lot of long sleeve shirts and leggings, pants, or sweatpants. It can be hard because Arizona‘s heat and sun is super harsh. However, I will protect my skin at any cost. – Kyra
Summertime can be tricky for those of us with lupus who want to enjoy the fun in the sun like everyone else. Flares from heat and exposure are very real and very painful. I’ve found that consistently applying sunscreen, wearing UV protective clothing and hats, using umbrellas, and staying hydrated are really the keys to protecting yourself. Know your body and how much exposure you can safely handle. – Kayla
As temperatures rise and the sunshine is strong, preventing a summer flare up due to photosensitivity can be challenging for many lupus warriors. Increased exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet light and some artificial lighting can trigger symptoms like joint pain, fever, fatigue, and the butterfly rash to develop in some people. Photosensitivity impacts every person with lupus differently. It is important for photosensitive people to take measures to protect their skin year-round, and especially during the summer months. Some ways you can protect your skin include: applying liberal amounts of sunscreen every day, limiting time spent in direct sunlight, and wearing sun protective clothing. By making these sun-safe decisions, and learning of additional ways to protect yourself from UV light, you can help ensure a fun summer season.