Living with vitiligo always presents certain challenges, but after being able to stay mostly covered during the colder weather, summer, with its skin-baring styles and its plentiful beach days, can raise plenty of questions. Read on for practical vitiligo tips that will have you out there making the most of those balmy summer days.
What problems does summer create for the vitiligo community?
Vitiligo patches can easily burn or scar because they have no natural protection from the sun, making sunscreen a must. Avoid excessive tanning since it will only emphasizes the difference between unaffected and depigmented skin.
Which sunscreen is best?
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 for all exposed vitiligo areas. Choose a product with UVA and UVB protection, reapply every two hours and always wear a waterproof sunscreen for water activities.
What is the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreens?
According to The Huffington Post, mineral sunscreens use zinc or titanium oxide to physically deflect the sun’s rays and while they are effective immediately, they can rub or sweat off. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays, changing them into heat that is released from the skin, but they need to be applied 20 minutes before sun exposure.
How else can I protect vitiligo skin from sun damage?
Stay indoors or in the shade during the peak sun hours of 11 AM to 3PM. Remember that both sand and water can reflect the sun’s rays and that sunlight is stronger at higher altitudes and closer to the equator. Don’t forget that clouds do not block UV rays, so if you are going out on a cloudy day, put on sunscreen. Also, it is very important for anyone undergoing PUVA treatment or using photostabilizers to avoid peak sun hours completely, even when indoors, because of their extreme sensitivity to light.
Can clothing offer sun protection?
Absolutely, so dress smart by wearing wide brimmed hats, sunglasses and lightweight clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Stock up on swimwear and hats with UV protection or go with inexpensive products like Rit SunGuard that add a protection factor of 30 to a full load of laundry and last through multiple washings.
How can I keep vitiligo from ruining my child’s summer?
In addition to imbuing your child with self-confidence and educating them about vitiligo, inject some fun into their vacation days. Go to the beach or pool early in the morning or later in the day when the sun’s rays are less harmful and let your child pick out a funky cover up and hat. Check out the American Academy of Dermatology’s Camp Discovery a free, five day summer camp for kids with chronic skin conditions as well as the kids’ pages on vitiligo support websites. Most importantly, being vigilant about sunscreen will protect your child from harmful UV rays while also becoming part of their daily skincare routine.
Help! The cosmetics that I normally use to camouflage my vitiligo wear right off in the summer.
Summer can be grueling and not every camouflage is up to the task. Do yourself a favor and choose a high quality concealer like Zanderm, which is smudge, sweat and moisture resistant and can hold up to summer’s heat.
I stayed out in the sun too long and my white vitiligo patches are sunburned. Now what?
Try antihistamines, moisturizers or after-sun products to treat the affected areas. For the future, remember that sunscreen is a must, particularly on thin skinned areas including your eyelids, the backs of your hand, nose and neck, which are most susceptible to burning.
What do I do about the inevitable comments?
There is always going to be someone out there making an insensitive comment or asking an uncomfortable question. Whether you decide to respond with humor or an informative remark, have an answer ready so that you aren’t caught off guard and remember that the only thoughts you can control are your own, so don’t let someone else’s negativity get you down.
How do I keep from getting emotionally overwhelmed by my vitiligo?
As in so many other situations, positive attitude is the key to keeping an upbeat attitude. Take charge of your life by keeping a journal, tackling a new project and surrounding yourself with people who make you smile. Don’t forget that we all face bumps in the road of life from time to time and do your best to appreciate the blessings that are around you each and every day.
What do you do to protect your vitiligo in the sun?
Share your questions, tips & advice by commenting below.