The Importance of Sunscreen for People with EDS

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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For people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), it’s important to wear sunscreen while outdoors to protect their very fragile skin as overexposure to the sun can cause skin damage.

What is Ehlers-Danlos syndrome?

Ehlers-Danlos is a rare disease that affects the connective tissue that gives structure to different organs and the skin. Many people with EDS have hypermobility of joints, meaning the joints bend more than they should, and very fragile skin that is easily damaged.

Skin damage in EDS patients

For EDS patients, skin damage does not heal as well as it should. While healthy skin heals from a cut or a scrape with imperceptible scarring, the skin of people with EDS rarely heals completely. Instead, damage lingers for a long time. Moreover, scar tissue is more common in EDS patients.

One of the things EDS patients can do to protect their skin is to wear sunscreen any time they are outdoors. Patients also should avoid tanning beds to avoid sun damage.

What is sun damage?

Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation, called UV-A and UV-B. UV-A radiation has a longer wavelength and is associated with skin aging, while UV-B radiation has a shorter wavelength and is associated with skin burning. The energy in sunlight causes small amounts of damage to the skin. Normally, this damage is relatively minor, but for EDS patients, because skin is fragile, it takes longer to heal. The damage also can accumulate more rapidly.

Protecting the skin from sun damage

Here are some things people with EDS can do to protect their skin from sun damage:

  • Avoid tanning beds.
  • Wear a hat, sunglasses, and long sleeves to protect skin from the sun.
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UV-A and UV-B radiation on exposed skin when outdoors, even on cloudy days.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours if outside for a prolonged period of time, and more frequently if swimming or sweating.


Last updated: Sept. 13, 2019


Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


JustAMom avatar


Gee, I wish we could tolerate traditional fragrance-free sunscreen, but it has always been a trigger for our MCAS.

When necessary we use a zinc oxide based physical block.

We prefer sunhats and our "sun jacket" which is a UPF-based lightweight jacket from companies like Coolibar. That company has a lot of stylish active wear for sun for all ages. And, no, I don't get anything in return for telling you about this company. It's just good quality stuff that lasts more than one season, doesn't make us sick, and allows us to bike, hike and kayak.

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