Staying sun-safe this summer: with or without LUPUS!

Several weeks ago, the folks at Baylor College of Medicine sent the following article to me. I thought the middle of summer was the perfect time to post.

Having just finished up an 11-day trip to the beach (...I mean, the shore), and plans to go to the pool just about everyday this week, sun protection and skin care is very top of mind. Personally, I've found that a baseball cap does very little to protect my face. I take my wide-brimmed straw hat (compliments of my in-laws, thank you very much) everywhere! It went to the shore, it went to Sanibel earlier this year. I don't go to the beach or pool without it!

And while I've never had recurring rashes due to lupus, I did have a lupus rash caused by the sun a few years ago for which I sought treatment. It was on my decolettage (upper chest), and for that reason, I should be wearing one of these cute little SPF tops below when I head to the pool. I hadn't really researched them until writing this post...but now that I see how cute they can be, I think I might just snap one up for the rest of the season!

Jessica - Swim Crop Top

kanu surf

Here are some more links about sun-safe clothing that I thought were interesting. Here's one about fabrics and fibers - so you can determine just how protected you are by that cover-up/t-shirt/beach attire. 

And here, what I've found, to be the more fashionable SPF protection clothing lines - ParasolMott 50, and Kanu Surf on Amazon. Coolibar looks decent, too, and a friend of a friend started Eclipse Couture, which also has great stuff. So many good options!

You can read the entire Baylor article here, or see the snippets below: 


“We all know SPF is important, but it extends beyond that,” said Dr. Ida Orengo, professor of dermatology and director of the Mohs/Dermatologic Surgery Unit at Baylor College of Medicine. “Diet, clothing and familiarity with your skin type all factor into sun protection.”

Diet can play a role in preventing skin cancer, Orengo said. The following items have been proven to reduce the growth of malignant cells and skin tumors: 

Omega-3 fatty acids (Salmon is my favorite, says Despite Lupus)
Green tea
Resveratrol (an ingredient in red wine)

“It’s important to remember that we do need sun,” she said. “When sun hits the skin it transforms vitamin D into its active form. We need about 10 to 15 minutes of daily sun exposure for proper vitamin D levels. Vitamin D supports healthy brain, heart and immune system function.”

For long days out in the sun you’ll need more than sunscreen. Orengo suggested tossing out the baseball caps with ventilation holes and opting for a hat with no holes and at least a 3-inch brim.

“Consider buying lightweight clothing that properly covers and protects your body from the sun’s rays,” she said. “Many outdoor stores now sell sun-protective clothing. There also are products that will add SPF to your own clothing.”

Another tip to protecting your skin is to know your own skin type, said Orengo. The Fitzpatrick scale is a numerical classification system that recognizes how varying types of skin respond to sun exposure. Orengo said dermatologists are familiar with the scale but individuals should also take time to understand their own risk. . 

Type 1: burn all the time
Type 2: burn every time, then turns into a light tan
Type 3: burn but get a good tan
Type 4: sometimes burn, always tans
Type 5: rarely burns, always tans
Type 6: never burns, always tans

“Types 1, 2 and 3 are more likely to get skin cancer,” she said. “Types 4, 5 and 6 can get skin cancer, but it’s less likely. They should still protect themselves from the sun.”

For some types of skin, sunblock may work better than sunscreen because it physically blocks ultraviolet radiation from penetrating the skin. This is especially true for people who have sensitive skin, Orengo said.

Regardless of your skin type, Orengo said skin health should be everyone’s concern and following these tips, as well as seeing your doctor regularly for skin checks, is a good way to prevent skin cancers.


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