Hey welcome, maybe you are a fellow Lupus warrior or maybe you love someone who is and are trying to understand more about the condition! I got your back, lets look together at if and how Lupus can be affected by indoor lighting.
So can lupus be affected by indoor lighting? It can be if you suffer from photosensitivity and have problems with being in the sun. This is because some indoor lighting emits UVA and UVB, therefore some indoor lighting can cause lupus symptoms to flare.
Some modifications can be made to some forms of lighting to make it safer for a lupus warrior, there are also things you can do for yourself to reduce your risk of a light-induced flare. We are going to look at the type of lighting to avoid and ways to modify lighting and tips to protect yourself.
Lupus and photosensitivity.
Not all lupus warriors are photosensitive but well over half are affected. Symptoms vary from person to person and even from day to day! Common symptoms are rashes, these can be red itchy rashes, hives or it can look like you have severe sunburn after only a few minutes or on a cold, dingy winters day!
Some people get migraines and even symptoms of sunstroke… nausea, vomiting, high temperature or very low temperature.
Of course, it can cause a full-on flare, whatever that looks like for you. Joint pain, stiffness, skin issues, hair loss, muscle pain, brain fog… the list is literally endless and not fun!
The reason for this is exposure to UV light causes a process called Apoptosis, which kills off skin cells this process is particularly hectic in those with autoimmune issues and the increased number of dead cells floating around in the bloodstream and the fact that the process occurs for longer in us Lupies causes high levels of inflammation which causes the flare-up and reactions! Your body produces an immune response by increasing blood flow to the damaged area, where skin cells have been damaged, this causes redness, then the cells emit chemicals that tell the brain of the damage and this causes a burning sensation. Then white blood cells rush to the area to clean up the damaged cells this can cause itching.
Of course, people with autoimmune issues find their immune system to be hyperactive so it goes overboard and this causes the crazy levels of inflammation which causes our symptoms to flare.
Not everyone with Lupus is affected by sunlight and also not everyone with lupus who is photosensitive is affected by indoor lighting! The chances are if you’re extremely sun-sensitive you will also be sensitive to some forms of indoor lighting. If you have a mild reaction to the sun you might get away with it!
I used to find that at work, a school, I would come back after the school hols or some time off sick feeling chipper and positive, excited to be back but by the end of the first day my eyes would swell and I would feel headachy and nauseous. Inevitably as time went on I would end up sick again and off work.
I also found that going into stores with fluorescent lighting would make me feel lethargic, brain foggy, and nauseous, and often I would have to leave quickly.
Computers and other screens can also cause problems because of the blue light they emit.
What kind of lighting should I be aware of?
Fluorescent lighting which doesn’t have a filter shade on, often just an acrylic box, will be omitting some UV rays. Also, some LED lights usually ones that state they are cool or bright light can cause issues.
Computer screens and tv can also cause issues I find being on the computer can make me nauseous, cause migraine and generally make me feel unwell.
Sunlight coming in from outside can cause issues for some people, I can’t stand by my kitchen window if the sun is shining in (gets me out of the washing up!) it causes me the same issues as if I was out in the sun! Incidentally I feel the same when I am in the car and the sun is pouring in.
What can I do about the lighting in my workplace?
If your workspace has florescent bulbs ask your employer to add a filtering sheath to the light bulb they are easy to fit and easy to cut to size. Or they could put in an LED light bulb but be aware it needs to be one that doesn’t cause issues itself. You can also get light filtering shades which are more expensive than the film sheath.
If you are sitting by the window either ask to be moved or ask for UV filtering film to be added to your window.
If you are bothered by light your employer is obliged to make reasonable adjustments.
Things you can do for yourself is to wear light filtering glasses, wear long sleeves so you are covered and slap on the sunblock even if you are inside all day!
What can I do about lighting in my home?
Our homes should be a sanctuary and not a place that helps keep us sick! So what can you do to create a safe sanctuary for yourself without spoiling it for other members of the household? You can do all of the above at home. Installing window film will block out harmful rays but not impair seeing out of the window at all or reduce the light that comes in. It’s not the same as blackout film or tinting the windows.
Choose lighting that won’t affect you but will still provide what you and others need.
Wear blue light glasses when using screens. Wear sunscreen if you can’t make your home completely safe.
How can I protect myself?
Wear sunscreen all year round no matter what and it needs to be a high factor. You can also get clothing with UV protection. You can wash your clothes using a solution that adds UV protection to your clothes during their normal wash.
Using light filtering glasses can help when on screens and under fluorescent lighting.
Having a chronic condition can make us feel out of control, stuff happens to us and affects us, but using the above strategies can really help us avoid flares and feel like we have more control over our condition. Rather than view needing these tweaks to your living or work environment as a problem or inconvenience see them as a solution and its more convenient to have you well as much as possible.
Enjoy the process of changing things especially in your home, tweaking things to make them more beautiful and more beneficial for everyone. I had great fun finding cute blue light glasses like they were a fashion accessory rather than a necessity! Make it a positive enjoyable process that will benefit you greatly!
I’m not a doctor just a fellow Lupie so always check in with your doc if you need help, medication may help you Hydroxychlorinique is known to often be very helpful with light sensitivity and after being on it for well over a year I am definitely feeling the benefits in this area now but I still take the above steps as I hope to reduce my dose and feel that keeping myself safe and taking my meds is the most beneficial way forward for me.
All the best in your brave efforts to gain control over this illness.