Sunburn could increase your blood sugar levels – prevention tips

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

With summer almost here, the sun has been treating us with its presence on a daily basis in the past week.

While the idyllic weather could make you crave spending more time outdoors, diabetics should beware of enjoying the sunshine without a protective factor.

Abbas Kanani, a pharmacist from Chemist Click Online Pharmacy, warned that an unwanted souvenir from a long sunny day in the form of sunburn could spell bad news for blood sugar levels.

Kanani said: “Sunburn can trigger a stress response on the body causing it to release stress hormones like cortisol, which can lead to temporary increases in blood sugar levels.

“Skin inflammation is also likely when the skin is burnt which can cause an inflammatory response in the body and may worsen insulin resistance in individuals with diabetes or prediabetes.”

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When this occurs, your cells can become less responsive to the effects of insulin, leading to elevated blood sugar levels. 

Furthermore, the pharmacist isn’t the only one to warn against spending too much time in the sunshine without protection as a risk factor for high blood glucose.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also lists sunburn as a “surprising blood sugar trigger”.

It warns that too much exposure to ultraviolet light could send your levels soaring.

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The health body also explains that sunburn could trigger pain which can spike blood sugar.

What’s worse, some diabetes medications can even increase your sensitivity to sunlight, making you more prone to sunburn, according to Kanani.

He said: “It’s important to check the side effects and precautions of any medications you are taking and follow appropriate sun protection measures.”

The good news is that elevated blood glucose due to sunburn typically doesn’t last too long.

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“The effects on blood sugar levels are typically temporary and should not cause significant long-term changes,” he said.

How to prevent sunburn

The first port of call is applying sunscreen with a high SPF to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, arms, and legs. 

The expert added: “Make sure to reapply every two hours or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating and use a generous amount of sunscreen. 

“Avoid going out into the sun when the sun’s rays are the strongest and cover your skin by wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing which can protect you from harmful UV rays.

“Remember that water, sand, snow and other reflective surfaces can intensify the sun’s rays and increase your risk of sunburn.”

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