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A common side effect of lupus is that it can cause your skin to become photosensitive, or sensitive to sunlight. Skin rashes can develop in combination with other symptoms, like joint pain and fatigue. Therefore, those with lupus should avoid exposure to the sun. Living in Florida, that can be difficult. Here are some precautions you can take to enjoy the outdoors while limiting your sun exposure.

1. Stay in the shade when outdoors

Individuals with lupus should attempt to stay in the shade whenever possible while outdoors. If shade structures are not available, bring one with you! An umbrella or a tent can help you enjoy the outdoors while staying out of the sun.

2. Wear a hat

Your face is where the greatest sun exposure occurs because unless you wear a hat, your head is generally unprotected from the sun’s rays. Select a hat with a wide brim all the way around to protect both your face and back of the neck. Wear it all the time, including short treks like walking from the parking lot into a store.

3. Wear sunscreen

Sunscreen is a crucial component to enjoying the outdoors, whether you have lupus or not. However, those with lupus should pay special attention to daily sunscreen application to exposed body parts, like arms, legs and face. Think of sunscreen as your invisible shield from the UV rays that can cause your symptoms to flare. It’s also important to re-apply sunscreen often while outside. Adding a new layer every hour or so is a good rule of thumb.

Limiting your time outdoors is wise when you have lupus. But that does not mean you should be a hermit crab. By following these three steps, you can enjoy short periods of time outdoors.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.

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