What Is in a Sun Defense Kit?
A Sun Hat
My next layer of defense is a hat with a brim of three to four inches or greater, which provides the maximum protection to my face. Sun hats with a downward slanting brim help a lot in protecting your face as the sun approaches from any direction.
This is a new one for me. I was resistant to it for some reason, but this last lupus flare got me putting my stubbornness aside and finding ways to layer my protection.
Clothing is also a great option for those with sensitivity to sunscreen ingredients. Plus, this level of protection will not wash off, be wiped away by sweat or rub off during the day. Having a sun protective shirt and scarf in my protection kit means I am better prepared.
Basically, anything you can put between you and the sun will help block the sun's rays. So what do you look for?
With everyday clothing, the thicker, darker and tighter the weave of the fabric, the better your protection. The type of fabric also makes a difference; cotton is the least UV protective. The average T-shirt blocks only 50 percent of the ultraviolet light and when wet that protection dramatically drops. Lycra and polyester have the most UV-blocking ability with nylon somewhere in the middle.
Then there are special garments designed for sun protection. These are special garments and everyday clothing labeled for sun-protective qualities and have been rated by an independent laboratory for their sun blocking ability and then given a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) rating.
Most sun protective fabrics are tightly woven/knit and may (or may not) be chemically treated with UV inhibitors. Fabrics from cotton to polyester are used, with the most common being nylon.
I have found them to be more breathable and cooler than regular clothing. Sun-protective clothing can be specially designed to increase sun protection, as well as help keep you cooler and more comfortable on a hot day.
I look for features like air vents and a collar for added neck protection. Sun-protective clothing also provides protection even when they get wet. So if you are at the park, you can dampen your shirt or hat with some water and you can stay fresher and cooler.
An umbrella is required if I must be out in full sunlight (like at my son’s ballgame) and it actually provides a lot of protection. If I go to the beach (which I do only once per year now) I have a big beach umbrella to set myself down under.
Things to Keep in Mind
- The sun is very sneaky. Even on a cloudy day as much as 80 percent of its harmful rays can reach you. You must move with your shady spot; the shade travels as the day progresses so what is shady at 10 a.m. may be sunny at 11 a.m.
- Some lupus medications can make us more sensitive to the sun. Always read the labels for this.
- The sun can be reflected by water, snow, sand, and even that cement sidewalk you are strolling on. Those rays can bounce.
- The sun gets to you in your car. Although UVB is blocked by glass, there are UVA rays still coming through.
- The higher you go, the more intense the sun is. Its rays increase four to five percent with every 1000 feet of elevation.
Spending less time in the sun may be necessary, but there are times I cannot avoid it. I must be prepared. My kit is something I use and take with me as I leave the house each day.