Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease. It affects nearly every part of the body including the skin, joints, kidneys, heart and more. This disease is incurable and its course is also unpredictable. During the illness, symptoms can flare or go into remission at any time. Winter is a difficult time for most people who have lupus. It’s known to place more stress upon the body, causing a lupus flare. This article will talk in detail about this problem and how to live with lupus in winter months.

Winter Weather, a Common Trigger for Lupus Flare

Flare is a period in which lupus becomes active, making symptoms noticeable or worse. Those symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on every person.

There are many factors that can trigger a lupus flare, including:

  • Stress
  • Infections
  • Injuries
  • Exhaustion
  • Sunlight
  • Pregnancy
  • New drugs

Winter has been shown to have negative impact on lupus symptoms and its progression. In fact, it brings the cold and other potential triggers for the disease. For example:

1. Dry, cold air affects lupus

Dry, cold air in winter can affect your disease in some ways. For example, it dries out your skin and causes rashes, irritation or lesions associated with lupus. Moreover, cold temperatures can make you more vulnerable to respiratory infections. They occur in the lungs, chest, throat or nose, which can lead to inflammation and trigger a lupus flare.

2. Bad weather affects lupus

Winter storm can come and go in the winter. It brings rain, wind, snow and ice, which can put pressure on human body and make them stressed. In fact, some people with lupus go out and are injured, which causes symptom flares and pain. Others suffer from joint pain and headaches caused by cold weather.

3. Sunlight affects lupus

Photosensitivity is one of the most common symptoms of lupus. It causes your skin to be allergic to sunlight and UV light. So if you have lupus and are exposed to the sun in winter, you are also likely to get this symptom. Other sources of UV light that can trigger a lupus flare in the winter are artificial lights with UV rays. They are: tanning beds, photocopiers and fluorescent lamps.

Here are some signs and symptoms of lupus flares people usually experience in the winter:

  • Fevers
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Extreme fatigue or exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Skin rashes and lesions
  • Digestive problems
  • Raynaud’s phenomenon (cold fingers and toes)

Speak to your doctor if you feel that your lupus flare is coming on.

lupus flares in winter

Read more: How to Deal with Lupus Hair Loss

6 Tips to Prevent a Lupus Flare This Winter

Keeping warm is the most important thing you can do to cope with lupus in the winter. The few tips below can be useful for you.  

1. Dress in layers

Use many thin, warm layers can help you stay warm better in the winter. Besides, you should keep your whole body warm by: 

Keep dry.

Use water-resistant, insulated boots.

Wear winter socks.

Wear a hat.

Wear gloves or mittens.

Use hand warmers.

Stay warm in winter with lupus

2. Keep your house warm

If you have lupus, keeping your house warm can help save your life in the winter. You should:

Turn up the thermostat of your home.

Move sofa and other furniture away from radiators.

Put a rug down on the floor.

Close doors to rooms you are not using.  

Close your curtains.

How to stay warm in winter

3. Use Epsom salt baths

A bath of Epsom salt is very beneficial for people with lupus this winter. It can help:

Reduce pain and inflammation.

Relax your muscles.

Relieve stress and tension.

Improve digestion.

Aid the removal of toxins.

Ease Raynaud’s phenomenon.

Epsom salt bath for lupus patients

4. Keep exercising

Lupus causes more damage to your joints. Too much exercise can trigger a flare, so only engage in low-impact exercises to get relief. Consider the following:

Strengthening exercises.

Aerobic exercises.

Stretching exercises.

Maintain range of motion as much as possible.

Exercise for lupus

Read more: How Exercise Improves Lupus Symptoms

5. Use sunscreen when outside

Avoid sun exposure can help protect yourself from lupus flares. You can:

Stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Apply sunscreen before going outside.

Stay in the shade when outside.

Avoid exposure to artificial lights with UV rays.

Add vitamin D in your diet.

Sun exposure and lupus

Read more: Role of Vitamin D for Lupus Treatment

6. Listen to your body

No one knows your body better than you. So if you feel and recognize that you are having a flare, speak to your doctor or your family.

Use lupus medications.

Take supplements (LupuFree, or Fish Oil).

LupuFree is one of the best and most common supplements for lupus patients. It can help reduce inflammation and promote immune system balance. So take two capsules daily for 3 to 4 months to get symptoms relief and avoid flares.

In the meantime, avoid alcohol and cigarettes. Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of warm water. And, get plenty of sleep.