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Sun Care and Biologics

With summer in full swing, it is especially important to take precautions when in the sun. For those on biologics and immunosuppressive therapies, taking these precautions is critical. According to Rheumatology Advisor, TNF-blockers such as Remicade and Humaira, can increase the risk of skin cancer. Azathiprine also has elevated risks of skin cancer, as shown in a study from Pharmacy Times. Given these side effects, it is crucial to be cautious when the UV index is high. If any of this sounds concerning, it is important to remember that these risks can be minimized by taking proper precautions. Doctors always weigh the pros and cons before ever recommending a treatment. They won’t recommend a treatment unless the benefits outweigh the risks.

First, let's talk about sunscreen. Sunscreens can work in two different ways — either using chemicals to absorb the harmful UV rays or by having ingredients that block the rays. These are known as either chemical sunscreens or mineral sunscreens. The amount of SPF is important to note as well. Dermatologists often recommend at least an SPF of 30. Making sure your sunblock has a broad spectrum SPF is also critical to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Some easily missed or forgotten spots to protect are the hands, ears, lips (use a lip balm with SPF), scalp, and the top of the feet.

Does your moisturizer or makeup have SPF in it? That can be beneficial in a pinch but dermatologists recommend that you still use facial sunscreen in order to get the most protection. However, moisturizer with SPF is still better than nothing. At the end of the day, pick the one you’re most likely to use!

The time of day is also an important factor for the risk of UV exposure. In general, the UV rays are strongest in the late morning and afternoon. If possible, it is ideal to limit the amount of time you’re outside during these hours. Sunscreen is also a good call on days when you’re indoors. Be sure to reapply when stationed near a window for long periods of time. If you work from a desk by a window, be sure to take precautions. Long car rides can pose a similar risk. Apply sunscreen before heading out on the road — and make sure to include your hands and arms as these areas are most exposed. You can always check the UV index on most weather apps to gauge your risk.

Aside from sunscreen, there are a few other tips to aid in sun protection. Wearing a hat when outdoors will help protect your scalp and face. Sunglasses with UVA and UVB protective lenses are a great way to shield your eyes. Using an umbrella for shade is also beneficial. UV protective clothing can help boost your protection as well. This type of clothing usually last between 30-40 washes with regular use. You can find UV protective clothing at many sports retail stores.

Hopefully you found the information in this article useful! Feel free to read up on the links provided for even more resources. There’s nothing wrong with getting outdoors to enjoy some sunshine, but doing it safely is best!

Blog post written by: Michelle


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