Heptatitis C Skin Care Sun Exposure
Summer time brings bright blue skies and it is hard to resist getting out and soaking up the warmth of the sun’s rays. I joked in my granny voice to my family and friends that once my Hepatitis C treatment began, all I needed was to be rolled outside in a wheelchair to feel the sun. Part of that is for sheer pleasure, part of it is because I like tanned legs when I wear shorts. Cellulite looks better when it is tanned. Then I began to read about sun sensitivity. I quickly set a plan of action for Hepatitis C Skin Care for Sun Exposure. Being from Oklahoma, we get a lot of sunny days year round, but July and August can bring triple digit heat. There are definitely some do’s and don’ts surrounding medications.
Most of us know to protect out skin when we are exposed to sun. Did you know that the ultraviolet rays can not only cause sunburn, but photosensitivity can also cause a weakened immune system? Double dip that for those with Hepatitis C, on treatment, or living with liver disease. Those with Lupus and autoimmune problems live with this year round.
While on Hepatitis C treatment, added precautions are necessary in order to avoid rash, sunburn, and blisters. There are steps you can take! If you are using Telaprevir, Ribavirin, or Interferon the warnings are clear. This can be true for Boceprevir, Sofosbuvir, and other medications also. There are some steps you can take to prevent too much discomfort from sun exposure. I began my treatment in July and learned the hard way that many side effects are made worse through heat and direct sun exposure. The lessons learned are in this little blog and it is just in time for summer!
What it looks like:
Heat rash, Blisters – Any time your body gets too hot as a result the sun’s radiant heat, it can accelerate a rash. This can cause your skin to erupt into blisters within minutes while on medication for Hepatitis C treatment. Within a few days of beginning treatment in July, I woke up with tiny dots on my chest area. I went out in the yard to water before it got too hot. I went back inside about 20 minutes later and the bumps had turned into little blisters. They were tiny, but itchy and hot. I knew immediately that exposure to 80 degree heat was the culprit. Yes, it can get that hot in the early morning in Oklahoma!
Redness, Sunburn – As the days wore on, I had a few teaching obligations that included outdoor activities. Uh Oh. Even a walk to my car and back left red welts and hot scaly spots on my arms and legs. My face looked like it had been scalded. There were brown sun spots connecting like dots on those coloring pages from grade school. I was miserable and cranky.
Itching, Skin Rash – Most of the itching was on the trunk of my body, as was the rash. I felt like rubbing my back up against a tree like a bear in the woods. My legs also itched and tingled constantly. The worse effect to this was my inability to focus. It is hard to have a conversation, read, or do anything when your skin is stinging. It can honestly feel like little chigger bites or mosquitoes are stinging you all the time. Scratching makes it worse, so you end up kind of rubbing and twitching. Whattamess!
With most medications, these problems will resolve themselves without medical treatment. Hepatitis C is an entirely different thing. Try these tips that I adopted to get relief. If they persist, your doctor may bring in a heavy arsenal of prescription meds to get you through.
1. Avoid direct sunlight if at all possible. It may sound crazy, but it is just for a few months. Move from shady spot to shady spot.
2. Use high SPF sunscreen. I carried Nuetrogena 100 for my face and any area that was not covered with clothing. Anything that has Zinc Oxide or Titanian Dioxide such as Badger Balm, Nuetrogena, Calamine lotion, Blue Lizard or anything that is PABA free will work. You might note that zinc oxide has been getting a bad rap lately in the media. Check it you are concerned.
3. Wear ball cap or straw hat. You might be one of those people who can wear a hat and look suave and cool. You may be like me and look like a clown. Do it anyway. I laugh more when wearing one!
4. Wear light colored and light weight clothing. I am fond of tank tops and shorts when running around town. Normally, you would think that thin fabric allows ultraviolet rays in. However, the extra heat from wearing a heavy fabric can create problems too. It is one of those lose-lose situations. I wore a lot of cotton dresses. If any of you men decide to do that, will you send me a pic? Black colored clothing was out during the high heat with Hepatitis C treatment because it seemed to attract and hold in heat.
5. Keep cool by chilling out indoors under air conditioning. Count on a high electric bill during treatment. Nothing beats staying inside. Ask friends to run errands during the heat of the day.
6. Try to avoid hot tubs, baths or showers. The chlorine in pool or hot tub water may make it worse also. I avoided it. Check out my Skin Care S.O.S blog for more tips. Moisturize quickly after a bath or shower. For quick reference now, here are some moisturizers that have worked for many who were on treatment and even while dealing with sun sensitivity from other medications. Thanks for sending me your best tips. Try out what works for you. Sarnia, Gold Bond Medicated, Eucerin, olive oil, coconut oil or even store brands.
7. Talk to your doctor about any changes in your skin. They need to know how you are reacting and what steps you are taking. If you are doing everything listed above and still have the rash, the doctor may prescribe steroid creams or prescription strength antihistamines. I used Triamcinolone, which is a low dose. You may need stronger meds like Hydrocortison at a higher % than over the counter, Fluocinonide, or Clobetesol. An oral medication such as Benedryl may help. Atarax, Vistaril, or cortisone. Do not try to self prescribe. Let your doctor know. There are many different ways your body can react. Tell them you have this information, but let the doctor make that call regarding how to treat it.
What is up with the sun rash anyway?
You can have a photoallergic reaction when a medication or cream is applied externally. Your body’s immune system gets riled up. This creates eczema like rashes and irritation that goes away in a few days. If you apply something and it starts burning, take a quick cool shower and pat dry. Let your skin rest while you wait for your doctor to return your call.
A phototoxic reaction happens when you take medication internally. No problems may occur until you are exposed to sunlight. Once you go outdoors though, within minutes you may have what looks like a sunburn, bright red skin, blisters, or peeling.
This is not easy to live with. You are sick enough without the medications causing skin issues that make you take MORE medications that can make you sicker. Vicious cycle, huh? Your treatment doctor or primary care should be your first line of defense. Sometimes they may not have all the information. That can leave you feeling ignored. I have heard stories of people going to the Emergency Room or Urgent Care where the staff did not understand Hepatitis C Treatment skin rash. Some were pulled them off of treatment due to a severe skin rash that had gotten ignored. That seems so unfair. Always talk to your treatment doctor and your allied health team first.
Like everything else about Hepatitis C and treatment: This Too Shall Pass. If you are just entering the hot months, it may seem like forever. If you live in a climate with a lot warm weather and are used to getting out and enjoying it, depression can set in. Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms can result from having to spend too much time indoors, or not getting enough sunlight. Like you needed another reason to feel bleak and blue.
If you are dealing with Heptatitis C Skin Care Sun Exposure problems, try and be proactive. Get online, watch a movie, visit a forum or fb to chat up some friends who are dealing with it. Send someone to get you a bunch of dandelions or flowers to sit beside your chair. Ask someone to help you cut out pictures of the sun and paste them on a cardboard. Then put a blanket on the floor and have an indoor picnic. I have done it! Get out my low sodium barbecue recipe. Maybe you can even find someone to bring in some ants. Just kidding. You do not need another reason to feel itchy. Yikes!
On a personal note: Before I started treatment, my visits to a tanning bed got my legs nice and brown enough to get me through the summer. Last summer, post treatment, I “semi-avoided” the sun. This year? I am going to mow with my shorts on. See? There is an end to it. I’m not a doctor, but I send my best to you this summer as you take care of your skin while healing your body. In it to win it, Karen:)
Heptatitis C Skin Care Sun Exposure pics via creativitytakesflight.com webmd.com cbdpresentsblogspot wellhome.com