RA? Lupus? PsA? Be Careful in the Sun!

If you have conditions like lupus, or take certain meds, you need extra protection. Here’s help!

Health Monitor Staff
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RA, Lupus, PsA, Sun, Sun Protection, Sunscreen

We all know it’s a bad idea to bask in the sun to achieve that bronzed look (and forget tanning beds, which increase melanoma risk by a whopping 75%!). But if you have autoimmune arthritis or take certain medications, you need to be especially vigilant. UV rays can even trigger lupus flares or worsen psoratic arthritis symptoms.

The good news? With these simple precautions, you can still have fun in the sun! (Also ask your rheumatologist for other ways you can protect yourself.)

Plan your outdoor time. Avoid spending long periods outdoors when the sun is strongest, usually from April to October between 10 am and 4 pm.

Use the right SPF. Pick a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, preferably SPF 30 or 45. Skip products higher than SPF 50; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says they don’t provide greater protection and are more expensive to boot.

Check the ingredients. Use brands that contain the FDA-approved ingredients that block both types of ultraviolet (UVA and UVB) rays, including: stabilized avobenzone, ecamsule (MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. 

Note the expiration date. Yep, sunscreens do expire. If you’re still using the same bottle as three seasons ago, it’s probably time to get a new one!

Apply at the right time. That’s at least 30 minutes before you go out, so it can absorb into your skin. Use sunscreen even if it’s cloudy—UVA rays can penetrate the clouds—and anytime you’re near water or snow (both can reflect UV light).

Use the right amount—often! Use at least one ounce, or enough to fill a shot glass. Reapply every two hours and after swimming (there’s no such thing as a “waterproof” sunscreen, says the FDA).

Wear sun-protective clothing—especially to protect the chest area. (Your basic white T-shirt only has an SPF 4.) Look for clothes that carry an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating from 15 (good) to 50+ (excellent), available online and at outdoors sporting goods stores.

April 2014