Everyone knows the dangers of sunburn. However, did you know that for people taking certain medications, there is an entirely different sun disorder to worry about? Photosensitivity is an inflammation of the skin caused by the combination of sunlight and certain medications. While photosensitivity might look like sunburn, it’s actually quite different. There are two types of photosensitivity – phototoxic and photoallergic.
In a phototoxic reaction, the drug absorbs UV light and then releases it into the skin, causing cell damage. This causes a rash on sun-exposed skin, which typically clears up after the drug is out of your system. In a photoallergic reaction, UV light actually alters the structure of the drug, which makes your body think the drug is an invading force. Therefore, it produces antibodies against it, which cause inflammation of the skin in both sun-exposed and non-sun-exposed areas.
One additional factor to consider when taking certain medications is sensitivity to heat. Certain medications affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, meaning that you could quickly become overheated and suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke. In severe cases, this can lead to organ failure or death.
Luckily, just because you are taking medications that make you sensitive to the sun does not mean you have to stay sequestered. Simply using plenty of sunscreen, frequenting shady areas, and avoiding outdoor activity during the hottest parts of the day can keep you safe and sound.
Here is a list of common medications that cause problems in the sun. If you are taking one of these, ask your home health nurse for more information about how to stay safe. He or she can better explain the side effects of sun sensitivity as well as come up with a plan to keep you protected.
|Allergy drugs (loratadine, promethazine)||Antibiotics (quinilones, tetracyclines, sulfonamides)||Sunscreens (para-aminobenzoic acid, oxybenzone, cyclohexanol, benzophenones, salicylates, cinnamate)|
|Muscle spasm drugs (atropine, scopolamine)||Antihistamines (diphenhydramine)||Anti-microbials (chlorhexidine, hexachlorophene, dapsone)|
|Belladonna alkaloids||Malaria medications (quinine, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine)||Painkillers (celecoxib)|
|Mental illness drugs (thioridazine, chlorpromazine, prochlorperazine)||Cancer chemotherapy drugs (5-fluorouracil, vinblastine, dacarbazine)||Cancer chemotherapy drugs (5-fluorouracil)|
|Major tranquilizers (phenothiazines, butyrophenones, thioxanthenes)||Cardiac drugs (amiodarone, nifedipine, quinidine, diltiazem)||Fragrances (musk, 6-methylcoumarine)|
|High blood pressure drugs (mecamylamine )||Diuretics (furosemide, thiazides)|
|High blood pressure drugs (beta blockers)||Diabetic drugs (sulfonylureas)|
|Migraine drugs (triptanes)||Painkillers (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)|
|Ephedrine/pseudoephedrine (OTC decongestant, Sudafed)||Skin medications (photodynamic therapy for skin cancer)|
|Cocaine||Acne medications (isotretinoin, acitretin)|
|Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) drugs (amphetamines)||Psychiatric drugs (phenothiazines, tricyclic)|