July is UV Safety Awareness Month! We all love to take in those warm summer rays, but as we battle lupus, we must remember to protect ourselves from the damaging effects of the sun and reduce lupus flares.
Lupus Warriors Who are sun-sensitive show that sensitivity in several ways. Most commonly a rash appears, or gets worse. Sometimes, however, they develop joint pains, fever and other signs of general flare-up.
Sun-sensitivity symptoms can show up several days or even a few weeks after heavy sun exposure.
According to the Lupus Foundation of America, photosensitivity affects 70-90% of people with subacute cutaneous lupus and 50 to 75% of those with systemic lupus.
Cover up. Wearing a hat (preferably wide-brimmed) or other UV protective clothing can partly shield your skin from the harmful effects of UV ray exposure. Wearing sunglasses (even when it’s cloudy) are also recommended forms of sun protection.
Stay in the shade or indoors. The sun’s glare is most intense at mid-day. Staying in the shade or indoors between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. will further protect your skin. Remember The sun can still damage your skin and cause lupus flares on cloudy days.
Choose the right sunscreen. This is extremely important. The SPF (Sun Protection Factor) scale is not linear: SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB rays SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays.
When out in the sun, it’s important that you apply at least one ounce (a palmful) of sunscreen every two hours. You should apply it more often if you are sweating or swimming, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
To stay protected in the sun, you can also use a free sun safety app, like QSun. These apps give tailored sun safety recommendations, such as how much sunscreen you should apply and the hours that the sun is strongest during the day in your area.