Enjoying the Sun with Autoimmune Disease
Juana and Diane don’t let their sun sensitivities stop them from enjoying time outside. Diane — who loves the outdoors and can’t wait to plan more beach vacations when the pandemic is over — learned to change her wardrobe after her lupus diagnosis.
“I’ve started wearing long sleeves, and staying out of direct sunlight as much as possible when I go hiking or running,” Diane says.
Juana also dresses strategically, rather than missing out on time outside.
“If I’m going to the park, I’ll wear long sleeves, long pants and a big floppy hat,” she says. “I also bring a scarf to cover my face if I need to.”
Dr. Carlin recommends being strategic about your sunscreen and remembering to reapply. Many makeup and skincare products can also provide UVA/UVB protection. If you wear makeup, using those products can be an easy way to make sunscreen part of your routine.
“Not all sunscreens are made equal,” Dr. Carlin says. “I recommend using at least SPF 50 and checking the label to make sure it protects you from UVA and UVB rays.”
He also recommends choosing clothing that offers higher sun protection, like those made from thicker materials and darker fabrics. You can also wash your clothes in a solution that makes them more UV resistant, which you can buy from a handful of brands at box stores and online.
“I tell my patients, you don’t have to turn into a vampire,” Dr. Carlin says. “Being careful and smart about your sun exposure can help you enjoy the outdoors without triggering disease flares.”