What is Photosensitivity?
Sunlight and other sources of light, such as indoor fluorescent light, produce ultraviolet (UV) rays. Photosensitivity is extreme sensitivity to these UV rays and can cause rashes, fever, joint pain, fatigue, and other symptoms. People who have the two main types of lupus, cutaneous lupus and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), commonly experience photosensitivity. Excess exposure to UV rays can cause an increase of disease activity, or flare, of their lupus.
How does photosensitivity affect people who have lupus?
Exposure to the UV rays of the sun or indoor fluorescent light can affect each person with lupus differently. Some people will develop new or worsening skin rashes or sores, known as lesions, for example. Those will SLE may experience increased joint pain, fever, fatigue, and flu-like symptoms.
Protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays can help prevent lupus flares
You can protect yourself from lupus flares by avoiding sun exposure whenever possible. Stay out of direct sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm when UV rays are especially intense. Avoid exposure to sunlight at higher altitudes or around snow and water. You can also use a broad-spectrum SPF 70 sunscreen and sun-protective clothing. Apply sunscreen liberally, particularly on your neck, forehead, ears, and other problem areas; reapply often to maintain adequate coverage.
Since photosensitivity affects everyone with lupus differently, pay close attention to how your body reacts to exposure to UV light, and protect your skin accordingly.