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Sun Care Tips for People with Diabetes



Jun 30th, 2017

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Sun Care Tips for People with Diabetes

Sun Care Tips for People with Diabetes: Main Image
If your shadow is shorter than you are tall, your risk of sunburn is high and it’s important to protect yourself

We all love to be outside in the sparkling summer sunshine—at the beach, in the backyard, and attending outdoor festivals and events. Sunshine can help us feel well, but it can also cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancers.

People with diabetes have extra concerns when it comes to sun over-exposure: Diabetes increases the risks of dehydration and overheating, which could lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. A sunburn can also cause your blood sugar level to rise, and can leave you more vulnerable to skin infections. It’s important to bear in mind that certain diabetes medications, known as sulfonylureas (with the generic names glyburide, glipizide, and glimepiride), can make you more prone to sunburn, and another diabetes medication, known as metformin, can increase fluid loss and contribute to dehydration.

Learn the basics of sun protection

Become “sun savvy” by learning about sun protection and practicing good sun-care habits:

  • Limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when rays are most intense.
  • Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 (SPF 15), which blocks 93% of harmful UVB rays (short-wave ultraviolet B rays). Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming to maintain protection. Labeling laws only allow sunscreens that block both forms of UVR (ultraviolet rays)—UVA (long-wave ultraviolet A rays) and UVB—to be labeled "broad spectrum."
  • Try broad spectrum sunscreens with avobenzone, a chemical doctors consider highly effective in absorbing both long- and short-wave ultraviolet radiation.
  • Wear a hat and tightly-woven, loose clothing when you spend time outside, making sure to protect exposed legs and arms.
  • Wear a dark-colored (white only offers an SPF of about 8), long-sleeved shirt over your bathing suit, or buy a bathing suit with built-in sunscreen; change into dry clothes after swimming since wet clothing loses half of its UVR protection.
  • Choose wrap-around sunglasses that filter out UVR.
  • Remember the shadow rule: If your shadow is shorter than you are tall, your risk of sunburn is high and it’s important to protect yourself. But, if your shadow is longer than you are tall, the sun angle is probably too low to cause a burn; however, if you stay out in the sun long enough, it’s possible to get a sunburn no matter what your shadow length is.

Make a habit of it

Taking simple steps to establish a daily sun-protection routine can help make it as much a part of your day as brushing your teeth and putting on your shoes.

  • Apply sunscreen first thing in the morning when getting dressed, or 15 to 30 minutes before going outside, so it can dry and set. This is especially important for chemical sunscreens, which need time to absorb into the skin for full protection.
  • Apply sunscreen to all parts of the body, including ears, eyelids, shoulders, and tops of feet. Try a spray sunscreen to make application extra easy and fast.
  • Bring sunscreen and lip balm sunscreen along if you’re going to be outside a lot during the day.

Also keep in mind that, if you wear full-coverage sunscreen every moment you are outside, your skin will probably not produce much vitamin D. If this is the case for you, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor if you may need a vitamin D supplement.

(Diabetes Technol Ther 2013;15:520–9)

Copyright © 2019 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to Sun Care Tips for People with Diabetes

  1. Kim 14/07/2017 at 11:49 am

    Very interesting. I always thought lighter colors were better in the sun. They may be cooler but don’t seem to offer the same sun protection as dark colored clothing.

  2. Kim 14/07/2017 at 11:53 am

    This article was a huge eye opener. I did not know many, many of these things were linked to lack vitamin D.

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