Happy First Day of Summer! Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine! You may love going to the beach, sitting by a pool, going to a farmers market, hiking the woods, going for a long bike ride, having a picnic or enjoying a scenic walk. Whatever it is, there are a few things you should know if you suffer from arthritis and joint pain.
Did you know that certain types of arthritis can cause sensitivity to sunlight? People who have lupus, scleroderma, psoriatic arthritis, or dermatomyositis tend to be more sensitive to the sun. Another not-so-fun fact is that many drugs used to treat arthritis can make the skin more susceptible to burning. These medicines include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and celecoxib, which are used to reduce pain and inflammation in all types of arthritis. Chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine and methotrexate, which are drugs used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, can also increase skin sensitivity. Make sure to check the labels of drugs you take to see if they cause sensitivity to the sun.
Tips for Sun Protection
Use Sunscreen. Whenever you go outside, make sure to apply sun screen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Doctors recommend SPF 30+ if you tend to burn easily. Broad spectrum sunscreen protects against both UVB radiation (which cause sunburns) and UVA exposure (which leads to skin cancer and early skin aging). Even if it is cloudy outside, UV rays can still affect you because they can penetrate clouds. Remember to reapply sunscreen every 2-3 hours. While some sunscreens claim they are water resistant or waterproof, it’s always a good idea to reapply after swimming, too.
Wear the Right Clothes. While we all love a good tan in the summer, too much sun exposure can be dangerous. Bring a loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirt on your next beach trip to protect your skin from too much sun. Also, invest in a large-brimmed sun hat and some sunglasses. Ultraviolet light can damage your eyes, so sunglasses with UVA and UVB-blocking lenses are a necessity!
Let Your Sunburns Heal. Apply a cool cloth, hydrocortisone cream or moisturizing lotion to a painful sunburn. There is no treatment that will make a sunburn go away quickly. So, be patient because exposing yourself to sunshine too quickly after a burn can be dangerous. If you are constantly getting sunburns because of your medicine, talk to your doctor about switching your treatment.
Drink Lots of Water. When the weather gets warmer dehydration is likely. Joint cartilage has a high-water content, so when you lose body fluid and it is not replenished you’ll likely become dehydrated. Dehydration causes damage to your joints, so make sure you are drinking at least 8 glasses of water every day!
Remember, Vitamin D is important! While it may sound like the sun is too dangerous to risk the exposure, getting enough Vitamin D is important. Vitamin D helps your body use the calcium that you receive from food and drinks, which makes your bones strong. Going outside for just 10-20 minutes a day is enough to get the recommended amount of Vitamin D.
No matter what your agenda is this summer, remember these tips to be able to spend time with your friends and family all summer long!