Summer time has become synonymous with “fun in the sun.” Not so much, though, if you are sensitive to the sun.
For people with chronic illnesses, the sun’s ray’s can be problematic due to a variety of reasons ranging from things such as the disease itself to medications that cause photosensitive reactions, which increases people’s sensitivity to the sun.
Sadly, I have several strikes against me. I am a redhead and very fair-skinned, so I have always had issues with being out in the sun even before I got sick. On top of that, I have Lupus, which causes me to have reactions to the sun. I am also on medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis that make me, you guessed it, even more sensitive to the sun.
I am a summer baby, so naturally, summer is my favorite time of year. But having to be so worried about getting burned constantly, it sometimes feels like more effort than it is worth. So what do you do when you cannot be out in the sun, but you want to be? Well, here are some suggestions:
- Try going outside later in the day when you can enjoy the weather without having to worry as much about the effects of the sun. Plus, watching the sunset can be a spellbinding experience.
- Go outside and find a shady spot. I recently went to a baseball game and was able to sit in an area that was totally covered. It felt like heaven because I could enjoy being outside and not have to worry about being in direct sun.
- Plan your time. Do not just head out without planning for how you can enjoy your time outside and not spend too much time in the sun.
- Try out clothing that provides additional sun protection. I have never tried this before but I know there are a lot of people that wear sun-protective clothing so that they can spend more time outdoors.
While wearing sunscreen is probably the most popular countermeasure to protect yourself from the sun. it’s still not adequate enough for many with chronic illnesses because of their sun sensitivity. This makes it difficult sometimes to get adequate amounts of Vitamin D. But if you are concerned about whether or not you are getting enough Vitamin D, talk to your doctor about other options. Do not follow the recommendation of spending more time in the sun in order to bolster your levels of Vitamin D.
And should you get sunburned, I found aloe vera to be an effective way to heal. Just refrigerate aloe gel and then slather it on. If you have a severe sunburn, though, you may need to see a doctor.
Although being sun sensitive can be a real bummer, it doesn’t mean you have to spend all summer indoors. Like most things, it is all about moderation. And if you’ve just started on medications that cause sun sensitivity and are not aware of your level of sensitivity, it is better to err on the side of caution than to end up with a sunburn that needs to be treated by a doctor.
Remember, you are not a snowman, so you will not melt from the sun. Being out in the sun can be fun, even if you have sun sensitivity. Just be mindful of how much sun exposure you can take, and be smart about it.
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Leslie Rott authors the blogGetting Closer To Myself. She is a professional patient advocate, and has been raising awareness about lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and issues involving chronically ill students in higher education since 2008. Along with writing for HealthCentral, she writes for a variety of other health sites, as both a featured blogger and a guest contributor.