Lupus and the Sun

I haven’t talked much about lupus and the sun, but it’s an important topic.  Among the things we can do to prevent flares of lupus, staying out of the sun is one of the biggest.  Sun exposure can cause flares and make them worse, and it can cause skin rashes.  Some lupus patients feel especially sensitive to the sun, and notice that it increases their weakness and fatigue.  Exposure to fluorescent light can also cause these problems in patiens with lupus. Every rheumatologist (joint specialist, the kind of doctor who treats lupus and other auto-immune disorders) recommends that we apply SPF 30 or higher sun screen liberally before and during exposure, and that means for bright, mid-day, summer sun as well as less intense light.  Problems arise when one is allergic to chemical sunscreens, which are numerous but chemically related.  I’ve had such an allergy for several years, so I’ve looked into the other possibilities for preventing problems from the sun. 
  • I can’t stress enough that the first line of prevention against sun damage is avoidance.  When we can stay out of the sun, that is the absolute best course of action.
  • Sunblocks:  There are two products sold as sunblocks that are creams that can be applied to the skin:  titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  Both are rather thick creams that can be difficult to spread.  Since they act by producing a physical barrier to the suns rays, they do need to cover the exposed skin fully, not just the dab of thick white on the tip of the nose that is so often portrayed on film. 
  • Mineral compound makeups:  Mineral makeups with some of the basic components of makeup without the binders and scents are becoming more popular (e.g. the Bare Minerals advertised liberally on television, as well as some brands available in drugstores).  These also serve as physical sun blockers, some claiming SPF of at least 15.  Some dermatologists have questions as to whether their claims go too far.  These are discussed in a thorough article on WebMD:
  •  Sunblock fabrics:   Sun-protective clothing is sold by a number of companies, some available in sportswear stores, but more comprehensive collections are easier found on the internet.  In recent years, women’s plus sizes have become more easy to find in sun protective clothing, with the online stores Coolibar ( and Junonia ( being representative.  Junonia is a plus-size women’s store with an extensive collection of active wear in sizes 14-36, and they have been very responsive to customer requests.  They recently began to carry UV-ban sportswear, in addition to the sun-blocking swimwear they already stocked. 

Okay, I’ve done my medical and scholarly duty for the day.  I see a nice healthy blueberry pie in a whole wheat crust in my immediate future.  Along with that, I’m going to order myself some of Junonia’s UV-ban drawstring capri pants and a nice long UV-ban tunic shirt.  Once that is done, I’ll finish off with a rousing session of intense knitting. 



One Response

  1. 🙂 I’ll have to look into the sunprotective clothes. i get so sunburned sometimes, it’s ridiculous. And I don’t even have an excuse, like lupus. I just am the descendant of a people who apparently needed vitamin D more than they needed melanin. 😉

    Enjoy the pie. What’s a whole-wheat crust like?

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