Lupus in the sun


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  • On 21/08/2020

If you have lupus, protecting yourself from sun exposure is an essential part of managing your condition. Many people with lupus experience photosensitivity or unusual sensitivity to the sun. This can trigger symptoms like rash, itching, and burning. Excessive sun exposure can also cause flare-ups in systemic lupus, triggering symptoms such as joint pain, weakness, and fatigue. In some cases, it can even damage internal organs.

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The risks of UV radiation

The ultraviolet light (UV) is an invisible type of radiation present in sunlight. There are three types: UVA, UVB and UVC. According to some research, UVB rays seem to cause the most problems in people with lupus. UVA radiation can also contribute to symptoms.

If you have lupus, sun exposure can trigger symptoms such as:

lupus rash or lesions

fatigue or weakness

articular pain

swelling of internal organs

Wear protective clothing

To protect yourself from UV rays, wear sun-protective clothing that reflects or absorbs sunlight before it reaches your skin.

UV rays can pass through thin, light-colored, loosely woven fabrics. For optimal protection, wear tightly woven, dark-colored long-sleeved shirts and pants, as well as wide-brimmed hats. Certain types of fibers also offer more protection than others. Unbleached cotton absorbs UV rays, while high-gloss polyester and silk reflect UV rays. You can also find high-tech “sun protection clothing” designed to block UV rays at many sporting goods stores.

Ultraviolet protection factor

Sun protective clothing has a rating, known as the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF). This indicates the amount of UV radiation absorbed by its fabric. Look for clothing with a UPF of 25 to 50 or higher.

Sun protection clothing can lose their effectiveness when stretched, weathered, or over-washed. Be sure to take care of it and replace it when it gets worn out.

Choose the right sunscreen

In addition to wearing protective clothing, cover exposed skin with sunscreen. Look for a sunscreen that:

  • has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more
  • provides broad-spectrum protection, blocking UVB and UVA rays
  • contains physical blockers, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide
  • is hypoallergenic

Test the sunscreen on your skin to check for signs of sensitivity or allergic reactions. Store it in a cool place and throw it away after a year. Sunscreen can become less effective over time and when exposed to heat.

Avoid Common Sunscreen Mistakes

Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going out. Make sure to cover areas that are easy to miss, such as:

  • in the middle of your back
  • the sides of your neck
  • your temples
  • your ears

If you apply it too thinly, your sunscreen will not provide the protection indicated by its SPF index. You should use about an ounce of sunscreen - or full shot glass - to cover your body.

Don't forget to reapply

Reapply sunscreen liberally and frequently when spending time outdoors. Add a new coat at least once every two to three hours. You may need to reapply it more frequently if you are swimming or sweating heavily.

Don't be fooled by fog or clouds: UV rays can still be strong on a cool, cloudy day.

Stay in the shade

To protect yourself from UV rays, avoid sunlight when it is strongest. For example, stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must go out, stay in the shade provided by trees, an umbrella or an awning. Installing sun shades on your home and car windows can also provide the UV protection you need.

Don't forget the artificial light

It's not just the sunlight you need to protect yourself against. For people with lupus, artificial light with UV rays can also cause problems. Sources of this light include:

fluorescent lighting


tanning beds

Limit or avoid exposure to these artificial light sources. Avoid tanning beds completely, as they could make your condition worse.

For more information, please contact our experts at:

Tel / Whatsapp: +229 90 43 17 26 



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