published May 31, 2013
Here comes the sun … but are you ready?
It’s spring, almost summer, and everyone is clamoring for the warmth and cheeriness that comes with the sun as outdoor activities ramp up! However, it’s not all cheery when it comes to the effects of sun exposure, especially for those with lupus.
The National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have identified broad spectrum UV as a human carcinogen. UV radiation (including UVA and UVB rays) is the main factor responsible for skin cancers, including basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and possibly melanoma.
In addition to these risks, for those individuals with lupus, sun exposure can intensify existing symptoms or lead to skin rashes or a lupus flare. In addition, a number of medications taken for lupus may increase one’s sensitivity to the sun.
So, it is essential to take care and protect yourself. Whether you’re enjoying a whole day outdoors or are simply going about your normal daily activities, protection from ultraviolet (UV) radiation is important all year round.
And remember, protection is not just for the beach or on the boat. UV rays can reach you driving in your car, waiting in line at your neighborhood restaurant or sitting in your office. On cloudy as well as hazy days, the suns’ rays can reflect off of all sorts of surfaces including water, sand, cement or glass. Even indoor fluorescent lights can emit UV and have the same damaging effect.
The FDA offers some guidelines to prevent UV exposure and help you stay safe including:
- Use sunscreens with a broad spectrum of SPF 30 or higher, daily and as directed.
- Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun, such as long-sleeved shirts or pants, sun-protective swimwear, sunglasses, and hats. Sun protective clothing is an easy and reliable source for UV protection.
- Remember to reapply your sunscreen at least every two hours, and more often if you’re sweating or swimming.
So please, enjoy the season but be ready for the sun … protect your exposed areas, put on a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and if you’re outside, add a wide brimmed hat and grab some sunglasses. And of course, consult with your own doctor regarding specific sun exposure questions and concerns.