Summer sun safety is all about ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UVA rays interfere with the skin's immunity, allowing damage to cells and promoting the development of autoimmune antibodies, such as ANAs. The ANA test is used to confirm a lupus diagnosis. UVA exposure can trigger symptoms and lead to a lupus diagnosis or trigger cutaneous (skin) lupus or cause flares of existing systemic lupus. UV photosensitivity can take many forms--feeling sick, having chills, fever, joint pain, in addition to sunburning easily. There is no such thing as a "safe" tan from UV light. A "base tan" is only protective melanin produced by the skin to indicate damage has already been done. Tanning beds, which use UVA rays, are particularly dangerous. UVB is required for the body to make vitamin D, so sunscreen and clothing decreases UVB exposure and vitamin D. For a person with lupus, vitamin D supplements or foods with vitamin D are better than increased time in the sun. The sun is the primary source of UV light and even on cloudy days you can be exposed to 80% of the UV of a sunny day. UV rays coming through windows can be blocked with coatings. Rays from halogen and fluorescent bulbs can be blocked with plastic covers, or stay more than four feet away. Given all of the above, summer is all about skin protection for lupus patients. Fabrics can be treated to increase SPF levels of protection by adding products to your laundry. Hats, long sleeves and long pants are recommended. Sunscreens have an interaction with your skin and need to be added 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Sunblocks reflect radiation immediately. The Academy of Dermatololgy recommends sunscreens containing Mexoryl which blocks UVA-1 and -2 and UVB. Sunglasses with at least 99% blockage are best and should cover the sides of your face.
Source: Lupus Now, Spring 2012
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309