Managing your arthritis in warmer weather

Two runners with their dog, outside in the countryside with the sun shining.

With the possibility of sunny days around the corner, and if last year is anything to go by, it’s worth getting sun savvy. Sunshine can lift our mood, boost our Vitamin D levels and give us an opportunity to enjoy being outdoors.

It’s important to take extra care in the sun, particularly if you have arthritis. Check out these top tips to make the most of the good weather ahead.

Drugs and sunshine

The right amount of sunshine is good for us, but too much can lead to sunburn, which can increase your risk of skin cancer.

People with psoriatic arthritis and lupus, as well as anyone on certain drugs, like methotrexate, could have skin that’s extra sensitive to the sun. Read more about why sun protection is particularly important if you have lupus.

Check out the conversation on our community about sunshine and methotrexate.

It’s important for all of us, and particularly the above groups, not to have too much sun in the hottest part of the day. Between 11am and 3pm from March to October, we should spend time in the shade, and cover up with clothing, sunglasses and sun cream with a factor of at least 15. Read more about keeping safe in the sun.

For children and people with sensitive skin, it’s worth using a higher factor sun cream. Remember that you can get burned on a cloudy day.

Enjoy the great outdoors

While it’s very important not to get burned, some sunshine on our skin is good for us. It’s about finding the right balance. Sunshine on bare skin (without clothing or sun cream) is the best source of vitamin D. This so-called sunshine vitamin helps us have healthy bones, muscles and teeth. But cover up before your skin starts to turn red or burn. Read more about how to get vitamin D from sunlight.

Sunny days provide a great chance to get out and about and be active. Walking, cycling, swimming or jogging can be a lot more fun in the sun. Why not do some research online, in guidebooks or by asking friends and neighbours  for ideas on  the best natural beauty spots to enjoy on your doorstep.

Drinking in the sun

Sunny days often bring the chance to socialise, possibly with alcoholic drinks. Drinking too much alcohol on a sunny day can increase the risk of heat stroke, because it can make the body struggle to regulate its own temperature.

Alcohol and sun can also both lead to dehydration. 

If you take methotrexate or leflunomide, it’s important to take care when drinking alcohol. Both drugs can both affect your liver, as can too much alcohol. 

Here are some ways to stay safe with alcohol:

  • know your limits
  • keep track of how much you’ve had
  • only drink alcohol in moderation
  • drink plenty of water and other soft drinks.

If you have gout, it’s particularly important to avoid getting dehydrated, as this can trigger an attack. Read our managing gout top tips.

Eat well

When the temperature does rise, it’s a safe bet that barbecues will be put into action up and down the country.

Some of the foods commonly eaten at barbecues, such as red meats, cheese and white bread can be high in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates. Staying at a healthy weight is an important part of managing arthritis.

There are many creative and delicious recipes out there that are low in fat and nutritious. So why not look to swap those crisps, hot dogs and cheeseburgers with colourful salads, fish, chicken, grilled vegetables and fruit.

Get some healthy ideas from these vibrant recipes - including pea and mint falafels.

Take a seat

What could be better than sitting in the garden on a nice day, with a glass of lemonade and a good book? 

If you have arthritis it’s worth taking a bit of extra time to find the right chair for the garden that will give you the necessary support. The following principles can help:

  • Avoid seats that sag like a hammock when you sit in them. They won’t offer much support and can be difficult to get up from.
  • Check that the seat isn’t too deep as this may not be good for your back.
  • Check the cushion is made from good quality foam – cheaper foams may go soft and start sagging after a few months.

Read more about gadgets and home adaptations to help you in your home.

If you have any sunshine tips of your own, tell others by sharing them in our community or on our Facebook page.

Help and support

We have a variety of options available for support and information, if you want help – get in touch.