There are likely to be a lot of people loving the current extremely hot weather, although after weeks of relentless heat it’s likely to be starting to lose its charm. Unfortunately, there looks to be no let up in the heat for several more weeks.
With a lot of lupus patients this sunny weather will be causing dreadful problems as light sensitivity is a common symptom of lupus. Some patients have actually traced the start of their lupus back to a holiday in a hot country, so sunlight can actually sometimes actually trigger lupus.
Skin rashes (even blistering) can develop and some patients experience increased disease activity (flares). Two-thirds of people with lupus have increased sensitivity to ultraviolet rays, either from sunlight or from artificial inside light, such as fluorescent light (or both).
So what can you do if you have problems with the sun? Ideally, stay indoors as much as possible or stay in the shade, particularly try to avoid the peak times of 11am to 3pm when the sun is usually at it’s strongest.
Staying indoors isn’t always practical, so the next thing to do is cover up: plenty of high factor (at least SPF 30) sunscreen - which you need to keep reapplying during the day, wide brimmed hats, sunglasses and clothing such as long sleeved shirts, long skirts/trousers. There are clothing companies that make uv protection clothing (and even parasols) which can be expensive, but if you do have issues with the sun they’re a worthwhile investment.
When you’re sitting behind glass such as windows or whilst driving, that won’t protect you from uv rays so take precautions. Also don’t be fooled by an overcast day as clouds don’t filter out all UV rays so you should still be careful.
Just as you thought things couldn’t get worse, some drugs used to treat lupus also cause sun sensitivity.. Azathioprine (Imuran) is one such drug. To prevent nasty burns and skin rashes, those taking azathioprine must be very cautious about exposing themselves to the sun.
So if you’re old enough to remember the tv programme Hill Street Blues, “let’s be careful out there”.
To end on a lighter note here’s my top 15 things that will definitely happen in the UK during a heatwave:
1. The newspapers telling us which countries the UK is hotter than.
2. Everyone complaining that it’s too hot to do anything.
3. 90% of people Instagramming cocktails/cold beers or taking screenshots of the weather app on their iPhone.
4. Everyone complaining about how the UK shuts down when there’s a slight hint of sunshine.
5. A train line that refuses to work at a slight hint of sunshine.
6. Someone in your street spreading a rumour about a new hosepipe ban.
7. Everyone arguing between each other over who had less sleep the night before.
8. Someone in a busy park sunbathing in a bikini like they’re on a beach in Ibiza.
9. A red-faced businessman who’s been forced to wear a long-sleeve shirt, tie, jacket and trousers to work. Usually about to pass out.
10. Everyone popping to the pub after work ‘for a quick one’. Even on a school night.
11. Open windows mean you get annoyed by your neighbours’ music/loud voices/very existence. (Yep this one is totally me!!)
12. You bemoan the fact that not all British buildings/cars have air-conditioning like “abroad”.
13. Envious glances at smug people in convertible cars. Swiftly followed by hoping they get rained on/pooped on by a seagull.
14. TV news bulletin features shot of policeman with sleeves rolled up/child asleep in pram with ice cream melting down their arm. Also Tabloid newspapers feature photographs of attractive ladies “frolicking”/“cooling off” in “the surf”.
15. When the sun is out, we inevitably turn our beaches into something from a disaster film. If you can find a spot of available sand, during a British heatwave, well done!