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Is the Sun Interacting with Your Prescription Medications?

When prescribed a medication, do you ever look at the label to see potential side effects? Many people don’t think twice and assume all side effects are the same without reading the label. It is important to get into the habit of always reading the label on medications to ensure you are not going to cause yourself any unnecessary harm. The dermatologists at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute want to teach you about different side effects that may occur and the importance of reading your medication labels.


Prescription Medications

Many people are prescribed medications at least once in their lifetime. Whether it is for something short-term, such as a cold, or more long-term, such as diabetes, all medications have certain side effects. They vary and can be triggered by different things. Common triggers include alcohol, mixing other medications (prescribed or non-prescribed), or not taking the medication with water. Another trigger that is less common is sunlight and photosensitivity.


Cause and Effect of Sunlight and Your Medication

To determine if your medication is affected by sunlight, check the label for a warning to avoid the sun or for a warning that it may cause photosensitivity. Photosensitivity refers to an increased sensitivity to the sun’s damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV rays are always harmful, but your skin may be even more sensitive when on medications that have photosensitivity as a side effect. This can result in severe sunburns. A good remedy for this is to simply use a higher SPF while applying your daily sunscreen.

Common medications that have sunlight and photosensitivity as a side effect include some antibiotics, tricyclic antidepressants, some antifungal medications, acne medications and some heart medications. If you are on any of these medications, you need to take extra precautions against the sun, and tanning in a tanning bed is discouraged all together as the bulbs are just as harmful.

The easiest precaution to take is to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. If you need to go out in the sun, make sure to wear a hat and apply sunscreen every couple of hours. Even on a cloudy day, precautions should be taken against the sun. The UV rays from the sun are still harmful even when you cannot visibly see it.

If you did all you could to avoid the sun but still end up with a sunburn, you can treat it with a cool compress, aloe, and by staying hydrated. Ibuprofen can also help reduce redness and inflammation. Medications do not have to ruin your fun in the sun but should encourage you to take extra precautions.


Consult With Our Dermatologists

If you have questions or concerns about a medication you are taking and what kind of side effects may occur, our dermatologists can help provide answers. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas complete this form and we will be in touch with you.

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