Lupus and Sunburn

Sunburn and the Lupus Connection

Many patients with Lupus, an autoimmune disorder, are told by their physicians to avoid sun exposure. This is because sun exposure, especially a sunburn, can trigger an immune response and actually throw the patient into a flare of their disease. Many physicians and web-based medical sites advise to put on copious amounts of sunscreen. For example, this popular article on Web MD (Lupus Photosensitivity and UV Light by Christine Miserandino) actually advises to, “…slather on sunscreen…” For many Lupus sufferers, this alone, isn’t preventing sun reactions and flares.

While sunscreen may undoubtedly be an important proactive measure for many Lupus patients, it isn’t necessarily the only option. Many Lupus patients find the harsh chemicals found in many popular sunscreen brands to be hard on their skin. These chemicals can cause rashes, a burning sensation, and in some cases blisters and other skin irritations. These reactions are actually quite common (Healthy Living ABC News).

Coordinating care from physicians is also important. For Lupus patients, talking to a board-certified dermatologist in addition to consulting their rheumatologist is critical in determining the best alternatives for caring for their skin. She may recommend alternative sunscreens, special sun-proof clothing, or other measures Lupus patients can take in order to best protect themselves from the sun.

While specialists in dermatology are well versed in skin disorders, Lupus treatment usually falls to family doctors and rheumatologists.

Some medications may also interact with the sun. The dosage and type of medication prescribed may need to be adjusted in order to provide the best care and help the patient be able to enjoy some outdoor activities. Contact Dr. Weinman at FirstCare Medical Center for more information and to find out how we can help coordinate care with your rheumatologist to provide you with a comprehensive sun-sensitivity plan.