It’s officially started. That all-too-familiar feeling of sweating through my button-up shirt as I walk from the subway station to work. Soon it will be summer and as unpredictable as the weather has been lately, you can count on one thing: It will be extremely warm and muggy outside. When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I used to think I wouldn’t be affected by the sun. I was wrong on so many levels.
Being a male, I’ve never experienced hot flashes, but I feel like I’ve had about 20 of them this month alone. For lupus sufferers, summer can be a miserable season. Overexposure to the sun can mean rashes on parts of your body that are exposed to the sun, overheating (which is my main symptom), and just flat-out fatigue. There’s nothing like stepping out of the shower and sweating about a gallon’s worth of sweat before getting dressed. I usually take the subway to get to work, but in the summer I use my car more because walking a block means that I’ve sweat through my nicely ironed button-up shirt and khakis. Nothing says “young professional” like sweat stains.
Here are some useful items that make my summer a little bit more bearable:
1. Cooling blankets. I cannot stress the importance of this product for me. Yes, they are expensive, but I use this all year round. Fun fact: Many people with lupus get night sweats. I found a cooling blanket on Amazon for 45 bucks and it’s my new best friend. I recommend getting one that lasts for a couple of hours and won’t leave your sheets damp.
2. Cleansing wipes. I’m at the age where every weekend during spring and summer I’m invited to the wedding of one of my good friends. This means that I’m in a formal suit… outside! I can do my best to pack on the antiperspirant and wear an undershirt to soak up the sweat, but it’s still not enough. My favorite product I use when walking around at any outside event is an oil-free cleansing wipe. These things are great for wiping up sweat and act as a great cleanser for getting any excess oil off my face. I fold mine into my formal handkerchief and it’s perfect for wiping my face (and my giant forehead) when I have to walk half a mile from the parking lot to that enchanting wedding venue in the forest.
3. Hats on hats on hats. I know it’s weird to tell you to cover up during the hottest time of year but those of us with lupus should. Exposure to the sun can cause damaging effects such as the infamous butterfly rash and severe flare-ups. No matter what, hats will never go out of style so I use this as an opportunity to show off my style and individuality. I’m a man of many hats, figuratively and physically.
4. Sunglasses. OK, I will admit. I might have an addiction to these (I have over 10 pairs). Sunglasses are great if you have sensitive eyes like I do. While it is tempting to go for those Ray-Bans that cost $100, I go to Target and pay $10 dollars for mine. Many pairs have UVA/UVB protection and they look great.
So don’t be afraid to RSVP to that outdoor wedding or Labor Day BBQ. Oh! And of course, most importantly, don’t forget your sunscreen.
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