Sun Protection: what do I need to know?
Sun protection advice
We have some unusual sunny weather here in Scotand which always take us by surprise!
We all know that we need to be careful in the sun but are there any specific concerns if you have a rheumatological condition?
Some conditions such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE) , Sjogren’s syndrome or other connective tissue disease can result in a hypersensitivity to the sun. Your skin might be more sensitive and sunlight could cause the a flare of the condition.
Some medications used for a variety of rheumatological conditions can cause people to more sensitive to the sun even if they never have had problems before. These include methotrexate, sulphasalazine, hydroxychloroquine and the anti -TNF therapies.
Anti TNF therapies (Infliximab, Enbrel, Humira, Cimzia, Simponi) are very effective for Rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions but there is some concern that they (and other immunosuppressive medications) can increase the risk of skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma). This risk is said to be modest, less than twice the rate in general population but good sun protection will minimize this risk.
It is also very important to discuss any new skin lesions with your GP as soon as possible.
Wearing high factor sun cream might lead to low vitamin D levels so it is advised to eat lot of foods rich in vitamin D such as oily fish, cod liver oil, fortified breakfast cereals and margarine. Some people may require a vitamin D supplement.
NHS choice has produced excellent sun protection advice, see the link below: