Photosensitivity is a condition where an individual’s skin burns easily and becomes sensitive to sunlight or artificial UV light. It often causes sunburns or rashes, particularly where skin is exposed to the light. Phototoxicity is a common reaction to photosensitivity, causing a sunburn-like effect on an individual’s skin shortly after sunlight exposure. A less common reaction, photoallergy, appears days after a person has been out in the sun.
Experts believe that some medications may cause increased sensitivity to the sun, noting that managing this with sunscreen alone may not be enough. Dr. Anthony Fernandez, a dermatologist, explains that combining certain drugs with both UVA and UVB light from the sun causes inflammatory and toxic reactions that are harmful for skin cells.
Both over-the-counter and prescription drugs can cause such reactions, including ibuprofen, antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin, diabetes drugs such as glimepride and glyburide, and birth control pills. The skin can also react to medications, including acne medications such as isotretinoin, diuretics such as furosemide, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for arthritis, and tricyclic antidepressants such as nortriptyline, among many other medications.
It should be noted, however, that people react differently to drugs and anyone can get exaggerated sunburns because of medications, regardless of their skin color. To minimize these drug-induced reactions, Fernandez recommends avoiding excessive exposure to the sun and wearing protective clothing such as long sleeves and broad-brimmed hats. He notes that being exposed to sunlight while driving or through windows at home may also cause a reaction.
In addition to this, the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends the use of sunscreen. Sunscreen is the most effective when applied 15 to 30 minutes before going out if the sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB light, if it is reapplied every two hours and if the entire body is covered. Therefore, you should check your sunscreen’s expiration date before use.
Additionally, individuals who are more sensitive to sunlight in general may benefit from avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. because s these are peak hours of intensity. People on medications are also advised to check with a pharmacist or healthcare provider if they’re not sure whether the drugs they take may pose a risk.
Alternatively, one can check out the FDA’s list of drugs that can cause sun sensitivity if they’re not sure whether photosensitivity is a side effect of a drug they’re on. It is important to protect your skin when you’re in the sun, regardless of whether or not you’re on medication.
If you develop burns as a result of sun exposure, it may be wise to quickly use readily available topical products available from many firms such as Jupiter Wellness Inc. (NASDAQ: JUPW) to minimize the resulting skin damage while you seek professional help.
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