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Why Does the Sun Cause So Much Damage When You Have Lupus....and Other Diseases

By Cass
Hi All,
It has been sunny in the UK this weekend...and I mean really sunny. I love weather that makes you feel happier as soon as you wake up. Sunbeams coming through the curtains and everyone's spirits lifted; it is a beautiful thing. Then you remember that the sun is your arch enemy and will strike you down...sounds dramatic but it is oh so very true. Why is this true? well it's because I am photosensitive due to the connective tissue disease.
Why Does the Sun Cause So Much Damage When You Have Lupus....and Other Diseases
What is photosensitivity?
Photosensitivity does what it says on the tin I guess, it means that you are overly sensitive to the sunlight, ultraviolet light and unnatural lighting like strip lighting. We are all photosensitive to an extent. We know that if we sit outside on the beach in Greece, with no sun tan lotion on we will burn and increase our risk of skin cancer. Well this is caused by our natural photosensitivity. For those of us with extreme photosensitivity, this is heightened to the enth degree and not just in terms of skin burning.People who are photosensitive will develop many symptoms after limited exposure to the sun. These symptoms can range from burning, rashes, heat stroke, swelling, migraines, vomiting and many more depending upon your diagnosis. Why Does the Sun Cause So Much Damage When You Have Lupus....and Other DiseasesFor me I only need to be in the sun for a matter of 10 minutes nowadays to experience dizziness, skin burns, rashes, mouth ulcers, nausea and headaches….oh and EXTREME fatigue. In fact last Friday I walked for 15 minutes to get the train home from work, by the time I had got onto the train my head was pounding, I felt sick and my fore arms were burnt…I was a mess.What causes photosensitivity?There are a number of causes and each one has different outcomes. Some people are naturally sensitive to the sun I know I have never been great at getting a tan or sitting out in it for hours, maybe this is because I am fair skinned.Many medications can cause photosensitivity, which you will be told about before you start taking them. Some of the drugs that can induce photosensitivity are chemotherapy, certain antibiotics and some diuretics. If you are about to start a new drug then it is worth checking the side effects with your doctors as this can be a fairly common one.Then there are medical conditions that can cause this reaction. Lupus is actually one of the most common ones to cause sensitivity to sunlight and it can vary in severity. I, for example, can sit under strip lighting in the office and be fine, but I cannot sit in the sunlight. Other I know can’t stay even near certain lighting without it causing them to flare up.Along with lupus these conditions are also associated with sun sensitivity;
  •    Some allergies can leave you sun sensitive
  •    Eczema
  •    Rosacea
  •    Chrons disease
  •    Measles
  •    Glandular Fever
  •    Lyme disease

And the list goes on and on…it is actually a common symptom in many diseases.What can you do to avoid a reaction to the sun?Well at the time of writing this I have a mouth full of ulcrs, a dire headache and I am nearly asleep…all because of 2 days sunny weather. I haven’t sat in the direct sun or done anything that would bring on a flare…it’s just what happens in the sunshine. Why Does the Sun Cause So Much Damage When You Have Lupus....and Other DiseasesHere are some things you can do to help avoid the damage as much as possible.
  • Wear sun hats….I have a lovely one that looks ridiculous but who cares!!
  • Use factor 50 or above. You can get factor 90 from stores in the US. Asda in the UK also stock a sun block for the scalp if you need it and it’s only £2!
  • Cover up as much as possible…cotton and natural fibres are best to keep you cool.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.
  • Sit in the shade when you can.
  • Stay indoors during the hottest times of the day around 1-3pm
  • Where sun reflective colours such as whites and creams. Darker colours let the sunlight through them more.
  • Sleep as much as you can/need too.

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