The Mighty Logo

My Tips for Surviving Summer When You're Sensitive to the Sun

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

The weather is getting warmer and that means longer days, fun activities, warm weather and sun. But what do you do when the sun and heat are not your friends? Well, one could hide in dark rooms for the next few months, but I don’t believe that’s the healthiest solution.

Photosensitivity means being allergic to the sun. Wild, right? How can someone be allergic to something that provides such vital nutrients? Well, it is possible! People who are photosensitive have an immune reaction triggered by sunlight. It can cause rash, redness and inflammation. Heat sensitivity can cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting and exacerbate symptoms of chronic illness. Anyone with these disorders should take heed to how they are feeling and take appropriate precautions.

Here are my tips for surviving the summer when you are photo and heat sensitive. Please be advised that these methods are what work for me, and they were developed through discussions with my treatment team. Always check with a physician before taking a medication or trying a new routine.

1. Hat

I love a hat. My favorite is a baseball cap, because I make them look amazing. However, I have had to upgrade to the huge sun hat in certain situations. These are my life savers. They protect my forehead, cheeks and scalp from the sun. I get a bad rash on my face from sun exposure, so it is essential to protect my face as much as possible.

2. Sunscreen

I have always believed in sunscreen and I have always used moisturizer with sunscreen in it, but it wasn’t much. After being diagnosed with many chronic illnesses and put on meds that make sun exposure more of a risk to me, my doctor suggested using baby sunscreen daily on my face as a moisturizer. Best advice ever! It is gentler on my skin and a higher SPF which is great.

3. Appropriate clothing

I know the weather is getting warmer, but I wear three-quarter and long sleeves during the summer. I need to protect my skin as much as possible. I have found wearing longer sleeves helps me not burn as much and I stay a bit cooler. I am also in air conditioning a lot and get really cold, so that helps too.

4. Limit exposure to sunlight

This may seem like the easiest one, but it is the most important. We all want to play outside and enjoy summertime activities, but do be conscious of how long you are playing outside. If you must be outside, try to hang out in the shade to protect yourself. It doesn’t alleviate all issues, but it can help you a lot in the long run. Also, if you need to pop up that umbrella to ward off those rays, do it! I carry one in my purse so I have that emergency layer of protection.

5. Huge sunglasses

Audrey Hepburn and Mary J. Blige set the trend for us all! As a photo and heat sensitive person, these save my life daily. Big sunglasses protect my eyes and ensure more of my face is covered. And hey, they complement the hat!

6. Water

It’s a great accessory to any and everything. Make sure you keep your water bottle full and with you at all times!

If you cannot avoid being in the sun and feel yourself not feeling well, here are some things you can do to survive the summer.

1. Wear compression garments

I swell in the summer and my body tends to feel like it is on fire. I find that compression garments help. I have a great sleeve for my forearm, gloves for my hands and of course compression socks galore! They really do reduce my pain and inflammation.

2. Soak and use Epsom salt products

They help to reduce inflammation as well and soothe pain. I use Dr. Teal’s body wash, Epsom salts and lotions with essential oils and these help to calm the pain and my mind. This is important in pain management because if you calm yourself mentally, your pain may ease up as well. The essential oils in these products are amazing, as well as the healing powers of the Epsom salts. You can also make your own scented Epsom salts with essential oils.

3. Steroid cream to calm skin irritations and inflammation

My doctor gave me a great cream for when I break out in terrible rashes. It is a blessing to help control the spread of the rashes and reduce redness and swelling. Talk to your doctor about this option.

4. Hydrate!

Even after you come home from your sun excursion, that does not mean you stop hydrating. If anything, you need to increase fluids and electrolytes more because your body needs them to refill nutrients lost after sun exposure, especially if you were engaging in activity.

These are just a few things you can do to make going through summer just a bit easier. I know it can be hard, but just a few ounces of prevention can go a long way. So here’s to a happy and safe summer!

This story originally appeared on Jae’s blog.

Getty image by Wavebreak Media.

Originally published: June 17, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home