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Avoid the Sun If You Take These Drugs

***General article not involving the Porphyrias and check the drug safety list***
Medicine & Health
Avoid the Sun If You Take These Drugs
Ronilee Shye, PharmD, BCGP, BCACP
Roni Shye, PharmD, BCGP, BCACP is a licensed pharmacist in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Posted on March 26, 2019
If you’re itching for sun and can’t wait for summer, it’s important to know beforehand that some of your medications could cause an unexpected problem. You may not be aware of this, but some prescription drugs can make you more sensitive to sunlight and cause your skin to burn more easily, a reaction known as photosensitivity.
What symptoms happen with photosensitivity?
If your medication has a warning to avoid sunlight or mentions photosensitivity as a possible side effect, don’t ignore it. Photosensitivity is an abnormally high sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. This usually means that you could be more sensitive to sunlight and get sunburns more easily. It might not be the same kind of sunburn you’re used to either. You may end up with a worse sunburn than usual—even a little exposure could mean a severe burn.
You could also become more sensitive to other light sources, including indoor fluorescent lights. The reaction to UV or fluorescent lights can cause itchy spots or areas of redness and swelling on patches of exposed skin.
These common medications can make you more sensitive to the sun:
Antibiotics, particularly tetracyclines like doxycycline and fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin
Tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline and nortriptyline
Older antihistamines like promethazine
Griseofulvin, an antifungal medication
Quinine and other antimalarial medications
Acne medications like Accutane (isotretinoin) and Retin-A (tretinoin)
Some cancer drugs
Sulfonylurea drugs for diabetes like glyburide, glipizide, and glimepiride
Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) and other thiazide diuretics
Some heart medications for arrhythmia, including amiodarone
How can I minimize my exposure to the sun?
To cut down on your sun exposure, first (and this may be obvious) avoid direct exposure to the sun. You’ll also want to stay away from tanning beds as they can be as bad or worse than direct sun exposure. When you do spend time outside, wear sunscreen! Protective clothing like long sleeves, pants, hats, and sunglasses can help.
And if you do get a sunburn, try cool compresses, and call your PCP.


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