One of the symptoms I have from lupus is photosensitivity. How long I can be in the sun varies from year to year, but the average time for me should be no longer than an hour. Well, I do better if I keep it to 30 minutes at a time. I burn easily, obviously... just look at my pale skin! But too much sun isn't just about the burn, it's about triggering other adverse reactions to lupus such as fever, pleurisy, and even kidney disease. For the most part staying out of the sun is an easy thing to do. So you can imagine my surprise a few years ago when my photosensitivity went indoors...
Shortly after our office moved into our current location at 111 East Broadway I started going home every night with a sunburn. I'd recover in my sleep only to have it return by the end of business each evening. By Friday I was ill and feverish and begging to cancel all plans for the weekend just so I could rest. It was truly exhausting, and I probably wouldn't have given it much thought, or even made the connection with my lupus, had I not developed a rash on my arm by the end of each week.
Determined to find out what was triggering my photosensitivity, a quick search on the LFA website gave me this information.
If you have lupus, chances are you’re familiar with photosensitivity, or abnormal sensitivity to light. Between 40 and 70 percent of people with systemic lupus find their disease is made worse by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, and the lesions of cutaneous lupus are highly photosensitive. The sun is the major source of ultraviolet light, but UV rays also come from indoor lighting, like energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs. Since the Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted in December 2007 -- requiring that all light bulbs in the United States use 30 percent less energy by 2012 and 70 percent less by 2020 -- these bulbs have become a hot trend.
Two types of ultraviolet rays cause photosensitive reactions: type A, commonly known as UVA, which has longer-term effects on aging, and type B, or UVB, which causes sunburns. Richard D. Sontheimer, M.D. (formerly vice chairman of the Department of Dermatology at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, now professor of dermatology at University of Utah Health Sciences Center), conducted a recent study on both types of bulbs and found that the highest amount of UVA leaks from old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs, though they give off very little UVB. The fluorescent bulbs, unfortunately, release both types. His recommendation? Shielded compact fluorescents, which are covered during manufacturing to prevent leaks of either type.
What? I'm allergic to light bulbs too? Yeppers. They had just replaced all the fluorescent bulbs with the newly rated ones when I started developing my sunburns. Well, a little knowledge goes a long way, and an easy solution for work was having some of the bulbs removed from around my cubicle.
Now, If I could just get them to turn off the lights at church...
For more information about lupus please visit the LFA website at www.lupus.org.