Lupies & Summer
by, 05-16-2009 at 09:05 AM (1552 Views)
Summer is upon some of us and fast approaching the rest of us. Having Lupus presents us with challenges during the summer months as we are extremely sun sensitive. So, each summer, I like to offer a few reminders to help us get through the season without too many problems.
For us, pain is triggered by many things: the main triggers are the weather .. and especially the sun. Photosensitivity is one of the most aggravating triggers of our disease and it doesn't take much exposure to ensure a reaction of pain, nausea, rash, stiffness, headache, and debilitating fatigue! We must also be aware of "hidden" UV rays as in Fluorescent lighting in offices and department stores! Computer screens also give off small amounts of UV radiation. Most people are not affected by it, but people with lupus or other photo sensitivities should take precautions. Especially if you are in front of the screen for long periods of time (more than an hour at a time, for days in a row).
Limiting yourself to short periods of time in the sun will help eliminate some of the pain, but wearing sunscreen is a must! Sunscreen should be at least 30 SPF, with 45 SPF being a better choice.
Below is an article that I found with great suggestions, information and advice about how we can survive the summer:
"The Sun shines a spectrum of radiation. For our purposes we will concentrate on the UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) rays, both problems for those with lupus. It is important to understand two basic characteristics about the radiation you're up against because the strategies of winning are different. UVB is significantly stronger in the summer and between the hours of 10:00 am to 3:00 p.m. UVA, on the other hand, stays at the same intensity all day long and throughout the year.
Strategy : You must stay on guard all day, every day and for all four seasons. Planning activities in the morning or late afternoon will increase your odds for success
Being sun-safe is a contact game so you'll need full body protection before going out. Let's start at the top. Cutaneous lupus of the scalp and face is very common, even for those with thick hair, so sunscreen and a sun hat are both essential.
San Diego rheumatologist Dr. Katherine Nguyen recommends three simple guidelines to her lupus patients when choosing a sunscreen. "Look for a sunscreen that is hypoallergenic, has broad spectrum protection, and has an SPF of 30 or greater." As a safety precaution she suggests first testing the product on a small area of the skin to rule out skin sensitivity or allergy.
As you may know, the term broad spectrum sunscreens refers to both UVA and UVB rays being blocked. What you might not know is that 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.
Getting the most from your sunscreen
Apply enough. Most people apply sunscreen like moisturizer which equates to about half the SPF rating you seen on the bottle. Example: SPF 30 lotion applied like moisturizer would afford only SPF 15 protection. Rule of Thumb: 1 tsp. for an adult face and neck (1/2 tsp. for a child).
Apply sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before leaving the house. Most health experts recommend reapplying sunscreens every 2 or 3 hours, or more if active or swimming. However a recent study suggests that reapplying 20 minutes after stepping outside, instead of waiting 2 hours, can reduce your UV exposure by as much a 40 percent.
Heat may change the chemical composition of sunscreens. So don't store in the car and other places where temperatures may get high.
Strategy : Apply enough sunscreen and take it with you for re-application
The next layer of protection is a sun hat. A four inch brim or greater is recommended for maximum protection. Sun hats with a downward slanting brim will go far in protecting your face as the sun approaches either horizon . For additional protection on the face and neck and/or for those who can't wear sunblocks, a hat with a drape that extends across the face or a scarf used as a mask, may be a good answer.
Now for the body. As with the face, sunscreens/sunblocks are an option for your body. But for many, clothing is a better option. With clothing, you're not putting chemicals directly on the skin. Plus, the protection won't wash, sweat or rub off during the day. Anything you put between you and the sun will help block the sun's rays. The question is, "How much?". Rules of thumb for everyday clothing is the thicker, the darker and the tighter the weave, the better. The type of fabric also makes a difference. Of all the fibers, cotton is the least UV protective. The average T-shirt blocks only 50% 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.
Special sun protective garments are available commercially. The main difference between these outfits and everyday clothing is that sun protective garments 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.
Also unique to sun protective clothing are special design features to increase sun protection and help keep the wearer comfortable on a hot day. Such features may include air vents, a roll-up collar for added neck protection or cuffs with retractable hand flaps. Sun protective clothing also provides protection when damp. By wetting your shirt or hat you can stay fresher with evaporative cooling - a big advantage on a hot day."
I hope that everyone is able to enjoy the summer season and able to take advantage of the beautiful days ahead!
Peace and Blessings