Create a Lupus Sun Protection Kit to Keep Yourself Well
Lupus is very sensitive to the sun, so I have been experimenting with sun-protective clothing, hats and basically anything I can think of to keep me going.
Sadly, having lupus means limiting or avoiding the sun’s UV rays, while everyone around you is soaking it all in. I recently had an immediate reaction from being outside on a cloudy day, chaperoning my son’s field trip.
I thought I was safer than normal with the cloud cover. I was mistaken. I went home with a blazing lupus facial rash and felt so sick I thought I caught the flu.
Up to 70 percent of people with lupus have some level of sensitivity to sunlight. Excess sun exposure can cause flares in people with systemic lupus and aggravate cutaneous lupus.
Exactly how UV light aggravates lupus is unknown. But there are several methods of protection, which when complied together, create a summer lupus sun protection kit.
What Is the Trigger?
Photosensitivity is a serious enough to completely disrupt normal outdoor activity for me. But when I counter the attack of this lupus trigger with a kit filled with sun protection, I can venture outdoors and enjoy normal activities.
The kit (a basket or large canvas bag) should be well stocked and ready to take with you and you should be dressed defensively.
Basically, the sun shines down a spectrum of radiation upon us. There are UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays, which are both problems for those with lupus.
Each deliver different types of radiation so protection issues are different. UVB is significantly more intense in the summer months and at its worst between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. But UVA rays remain at a steady intensity all day long and throughout the year.
With lupus, we must protect ourselves all day, every day and through all four seasons. Planning activities in the morning or late afternoon will help you avoid the more dangerous level of rays. And don’t let your guard down even on cloudy days — full body protection is required before going out.
What Is in a Sun Defense Kit?
I have learned my lesson after my cloudy day fiasco. I now keep my defense kit with the basics I need and add new items like specialized sun protective clothing as I buy them.
I look for one that is hypoallergenic, has broad-spectrum protection, and has an SPF of 30 or greater. It is great if you can find an organic one that works well. My luck with that so far has been limited.
You should look for the words “broad spectrum” on your sunscreen. It refers to blocking both UVA and UVB rays. You should know that the SPF (sun protection factor) only measures UVB protection.
Labeling laws regarding UVA protection are currently being defined by the FDA. One way to check if UVA is being blocked is to read the ingredient panel and see if ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide and parsol 1789 are included.
Make sure you apply enough and take it with you to reapply! I have read that most of us do not use enough sunscreen when we apply. A good example of an amount to use is about one teaspoon for an adult face and neck.
You should apply your sunscreen about 20 minutes before leaving the house. Most health experts recommend reapplying sunscreens every couple of hours or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming.
A recent study found that reapplying 20 minutes after stepping outside, instead of waiting 2 hours, can reduce your UV exposure by as much a 40 percent.
Remember that the heat may change the chemical composition of sunscreen and make it less affective, so don’t store it in your car or other places that get extra hot.