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Enjoying the Sunshine When You Have Diabetes


The summer months are the perfect time to get outside. If you or someone in your family has diabetes, you can still enjoy all of the activities the great outdoors has to offer. You need to be careful about protecting yourself in the sun. Sunburns have dangerous side effects for people with diabetes. Learn how to safely manage your diabetes blood sugar levels when outdoors.

When you’re out having fun in the sun, remember to protect your skin from its harmful rays! Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and UV (ultraviolet) radiation is the main cause.

For people with diabetes, protection from UV rays is especially important. Your diabetes blood sugar levels may rise if you get a sunburn, which can cause insulin to break down and work less effectively.

Some diabetes medications can make the skin more sensitive to UV rays, putting a person at greater risk for sunburn and skin damage. In addition, it may take someone with diabetes much longer to heal if he or she gets a sunburn.

Protect yourself from harmful UV rays

When you’re outdoors follow these simple steps:

  • Limit your exposure – Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when UV rays are the strongest.
  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, even on cloudy or overcast days. Apply it generously to exposed skin 20 minutes before you go outside.
  • Cover up with lightweight long-sleeves and a wide-brimmed hat to cover as much skin as possible.

Watch Those Freckles!

If you notice any of the following changes in your skin, you should let your health care provider know. Check your skin regularly for imperfect freckles or moles, or any changes to your skin, such as:

  • A new mole that looks different from your other moles
  • A new red or darker-colored flaky patch that may be slightly raised
  • A new flesh-colored, firm bump
  • A change in the size, shape, color or feel of a mole
  • A sore that does not heal

Your eyes need protection from UV rays, too! Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection and choose contacts that offer UV protection, if necessary. If you plan on swimming, remember to consider these precautions before jumping in.