Diabetes and Sun Protection

It's important to take precautions with medication in the sun
It's important to take precautions with medication in the sun

The sun releases UV radiation which can damage our skin and eyes, particularly when the sun is strong.

When the sun is out, all of us should take certain precautions to limit over exposure to the sun.

Protecting your skin

Many of us like to enjoy the sun but no-one enjoys sunburn.

The NHS advise people to use a sun cream with a sun protection factor of at least 15 (SPF15 or higher). Make sure you spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.

People on sulphonylureas (an oral antidiabetic medication) should be aware that these tablets can increase sensitivity to the sun and should take precautions to limit overexposure to the sun.

Protect your feet from the sun

People with diabetes need to take care of their feet as diabetes can affect the nerves of the feet and can cause difficulties with healing.

If cuts, burns and blisters are not able to heal, this can become dangerous in people with diabetes. It is therefore important to prevent the feet from getting damaged.

People with diabetes are advised not to walk around barefoot as burns and blisters could be sustained without us realising.

It is also important to wear comfortable shoes that do not rub or pinch the feet as these can lead to blisters.

When out in the sun, check your feet through the day.

Charity Diabetes UK advises people with diabetes to seek immediate advice from their health team if they sustain any damage to the feet.

Diabetes UK also advises people with diabetes to remember to apply sun cream to the toes and top of the feet.

Protecting your eyes from the sun

We should all avoid looking directly into the sun, whether we have diabetes or not, as looking into the sun can lead to damage to the retina, known as solar retinopathy.

Diabetes can also raise the risk of diabetic retinopathy and so those of us with diabetes should protect our eyes from the sun to avoid any additional damage to the retina occurring.

When picking suitable sunglasses, the NHS advises picking sunglasses with a 'CE mark', marked as UV 400 or that provide 100% UV protection.

Protecting medication from the sun

The medication we can take may also be sensitive to the sun.

People taking insulin or incretin mimetics, (such as Byetta, Victoza and Bydureon) should take care not to expose the medication to direct sunlight, or allow the medications to become too warm.