5 Fabulous Tips to Enjoy the Beach Without a Lupus Sun Flare!

Doctors say that people with lupus cannot be in the sun. I still shudder when I hear the words, “You will never be able to be in the sun again.”

I remember hearing those exact words years ago in my rheumatologist’s office and leaving in tears.

Being the ultimate sun worshipper, I took this as a life sentence. How could I possibly live only indoors? No more sun, no more beach. This was too much for me to bear. Hearing that I would forever have to worry about lupus sun flares was worse than my diagnosis. I felt like a prisoner. Next, I had to buy dreary clothes and hats for sun protection, which didn’t help the way I was already feeling about my body. Fat and in pain, I felt even worse in these awful-looking clothes. That was 5 years ago. Today, I do go to the beach. I do not get a rash as I did initially. But I go to the beach prepared. For those of you contemplating a warm getaway in the midst of this long winter, you may want some tried-and-tested sun protection tips.

Here are my 5 beautiful options for those of you who love the outdoors and the beach:

1. Wearable sun protection. I’ve purchased clothes from www.coolibar.com; the styles have really improved in the past few years. This kind of sunwear protection is especially important for those of you who are newly diagnosed or who get a rash from being in the sun. Enjoy the beach without a lupus sun flare!2. Gorgeous brim hat. Another deal I found on www.coolibar.com. I wear it all summer long, at the beach or park. Most department store hats may not have the same level of sun protection as this one does – it shades your face as well. It’s worth the investment. 3. SPF. Yes, that white pasty lotion. I wear 50 -100 SPF if I know my skin will have any sun exposure. I use this high SPF especially at the beginning of summer. This includes lip protection, at least 30 SPF. To make sure that you stay protected, reapply your sunscreen every two hours if you’re walking or exercising outdoors. In general, individuals with lighter skin and light colored eyes have a higher risk of getting a sunburn. 4. Beach umbrella. I have one that I carry everywhere! If I take the subway to the beach, I drag my umbrella with me. It may seem high maintenance to some, but I love having my own portable shade! Use an umbrella while walking outdoors. You can make a fashion statement with it. Just choose the right fabric, color, and design and make sure that it has UV sun protection. 5. Timing. Timing is everything, so I try to avoid the hottest and most potent sun exposure between 10:00 am – 2:00 pm and head outdoors after 2:00 pm. I won’t lie and say that I’ve never stepped foot on the beach in Miami at 11:00 am, because I have, but I go prepared! All of the above goes with me and I rent an umbrella at the beach, too.

Some may gasp at the fact that I am even writing about going to the beach. But I am here to share my journey with you.

Now, I am not saying run out in the sun and lay out! I know what your specialists have told you. I am also not taking medications that make my skin super sensitive to the sun. Keep in mind that lots of medications taken during a flare – or even when not in a flare – will definitely cause a rash. I also don’t think you should be out in the sun during a flare. Please be mindful of the sun and its powerful rays – and definitely no artificial sun bathing! I learned the hard way. If you really want to be tan (for a wedding or fun gathering), get a spray-on tan. It will last 7-10 days, longer if you avoid hot tubs and pools. The best spray tans are done by a professional technician who sprays your body, rather than just standing in a booth and getting sprayed by a machine. Bronzing lotions are also quite nice, though it can take some time to build up to your desired color. If you start early in the summer and use it daily, color will accumulate over time. If you are currently struggling with lupus, see specialists, on a ton of medications and still feel miserable, (and yes I know exactly how you feel, I’ve been there), check out my 4 week course that outlines everything I do with my lupus patients, http://www.margaret-romero.com/overcoming-lupus-the-foundational-course/. If you prefer to work one on one with me, check out FemmeMed in NYC. We will figure out what is triggering your lupus and your flare. So there you have my tips to enjoy the summer sun carefully. What other tips have you tried that work for you? Do tell! Until next time, Margaret xo

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