Sunscreen and Lupus

Category: Systemic Lupus Erythematous Published on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 Written by Yong Tsai, MD


Exposure to sunlight or to either one of the ultraviolet radiation, UV-A or UV-B, can worsen lupus skin lesions in some people. Experiments with ultraviolet A and B light have shown that both parts of the UV spectrum can aggravate lupus lesions, causing both local and systemic immune problems. Many patients find that their systemic symptoms become worse after exposure to sunlight or Ultraviolet light, especially light- skinned patients, who are generally more sensitive to UV light. However, even blacks with lupus can be aggravated by UV light.

UV radiation is characterized in the following manner; UV-A keeps the same intensity all day at a similar level all year round, its rays can penetrate glass and plastic as well as pass through the clouds, and most effective for tanning, while UV-B rays are higher in intensity from 10:00am to 2:00pm, of lower intensity during the winter months, its rays cannot penetrate glass or plastic, nor can it pass through the clouds. UV-B light is very sensitive to lupus patients.

Because the degree of sensitivity to UV light can change from time to time, it is best for all people with lupus to carefully protect themselves from the sun and artificial UV light.

Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen like Hawaiian Tropic Baby Face with SPF 50 or Hawaiian Tropic 45 Plus can prevent both UV-A and UV-B light from making the lupus skin lesions more active. Both sunscreens block both UV-A and UV-B light, providing more than enough protection for the skin.

Many people apply sunscreen every morning, throughout the year, to ensure they are receiving the best protection against UV rays. Furthermore, applying it daily can keep you looking younger and can reduce the risk of blotches and wrinkles, as you get older.

However, in order for the sunscreen to be most effective, it should be applied in a thick coat one hour before exposure to sun, followed by a reapplication every two to four hours for maximal effect.

So, if you have lupus, help yourself prevent skin lesions and apply sunscreen correctly. Not only does it protect your skin, but it enhances your natural glow.

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