What You Should Know About the Sun

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Did you know?  Sixty to seventy percent of lupus patients report that they suffer irritation or achiness after being in the sun.

If you have been out in the sun and feel particularly achy that evening, remember that the cause may be too much sun.

And while this may seem unfair, remember that everyone who is health-conscious should be taking the same precautions recommended here.  Skin cancer is a growing concern of the 21st century, and so lupus is just one more reason to take care of yourself in the sun.

Different Ways with Different Rays 

The sun emits ultraviolet radiation in three bands…A (tanning rays), B (burning rays), and C (rays that are completely absorbed by the atmosphere).

Ultraviolet A rays are around all day long, even on a cloudy day, and over-exposure to these rays can suppress the immune system.  Some scientists have suggested that when the bands of ultraviolet light hit the skin they may leave superficial deposits of DNA which are the body’s building blocks.  This may result in the release of by-products that induce the formation of anti-DNA which damages body tissues.

It is important that you use sunscreen that blocks both A and B rays.  (The FDA has only recently approved the sunscreens that block A rays. Check the sunscreen you normally use to be certain it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. We’ll discuss more about sunscreen in more detail in another post.)

  • Avoid unprotected exposure between the hours of 10 a.m.-3 p.m. If you must be out wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Remember that ultraviolet light is more powerful at higher altitudes. If you are skiing or live in a high altitude climate you need to be doubly careful.
  • Sun reflects off water and snow. Be sure to reapply sunscreen if you are getting this added exposure at any time of day.
  • If you are taking antibiotics with sulfa or certain tetracyclines, these increase sensitivity to the sun. Try to stay in the shade and avoid sun exposure while on these medications.

Brought to you by Lupus LA.

Research based on The Lupus Book: A Guide for Patients and Their Families by Daniel J. Wallace, M.D.