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Friday, April 25, 2014

Lupus, Skin Cancer Awareness and the Ideal Sun Hat

It is that time of year when the itch to get outside gets stronger with every sunny day. 
May is Lupus Awareness Month and other than the endless question being "what is Lupus", there is very little understanding about what the sun has to do with anything.

Photosensitivity or sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) light, is a common symptom of lupus. It can take different forms. Some people actually become ill after exposure with nausea, fatigue and headaches. Others may suffer a flare-up with arthritis, alopecia, pleurisy or mucosal ulcerations. The most common problem with UV exposure is the lupus rash. The rash may be limited to just those areas of exposure or it may pop up on different parts of the body. For more information on the effects from the sun you may be interested in this past post.

I've always adored the sun and I love the warmth of long as I have my hat. I keep an extra in my car, the truck and never go on a day trip without it. Just the idea of breaking down and having to walk without my hat is cause for anxiety because I know within five minutes of the blaring sun I'll feel "out of it" and nauseated. I can do most anything I want outside as long as I keep moving (not just sitting around) and I have the protection of a five inch brim, no baseball caps for me. However, I know better than to spend long days either at the beach or on a boat out in the water. Don't be foolish and let yourself be put in situations where you feel trapped and can't get away from the sun's intensity.

Since I'll never be able to enjoy summer activities without smashing down any type of nice hair style, the least I can do is not feel self-conscious about my head gear.
There are hundreds of sun hats out there, and I've become very selective.
First, it is a rare day when there isn't a breeze in the air, and little is more annoying than the feeling that your hat is going to blow off your head. No one wants to walk around all day with one hand holding the thing in place. So my hat of choice must have ties or a drawstring.

Second, those cheap straw hats with the loose weave are worthless for protection. A minimum sun protective rating of UPF 40+ is necessary and worth the extra money from the suppliers who offer such a thing.

Third is the size of the brim. Baseball caps offer shade on the face but won't do much else. Needed is an all around brim of 4 to 5 inches. I've tried the typical 3 inch brim and can feel the difference.

Last is the style of the hat itself. Two things about that:
First, since a hat goes wherever I go, it is nice to have a portable hat that folds. Very annoying is traveling in an airplane with a stiff hat that can't be stowed anywhere. Nice is a hat that is meant to be folded and tucked in a suitcase or totebag.
Second, forget those big floppy things. They may look sexy and flattering in pictures, but are the most annoying things to actually wear. Your peripheral vision is obliterated and you definitely lose self-confidence maneuvering in a crowd when you feel your vision is obstructed. 

So the selection is limited, but I have found sites that do carry attractive, practical sun hats for men, women and children.
The picture hats below are from wonderful companies with sun protection as their objective. The average cost is between $35 and $55 but worth it. Just like a good pair of shoes that will get worn to their bitter end.

Sun protection is certainly not just for those with a condition. Skin cancer is a very real concern for everyone of all skin types. Those little spots that turn up on the face years later probably got their start during childhood bouts with sunburn. Already sporting two little facial scars from removal of such basil cells, common sense with sun exposure is nothing to brush off in our desire for a tan or our vanity. The hat below is a favorite and is from Sunday Afternoons.

Frecklescalifornia Sun Hat

Sun Precautions Sun Hat
Coolibar Sun Hat