Certain medications can cause a sensitivity to the sun known as phototoxicity or photoallergy. If you are taking any medications with this as a side effect, it is important to know how best to protect your skin from the sun should it happen to you. The good news is that with the right strategies to protect your body when you’re taking medication that causes sun sensitivity, you can still enjoy the outdoors and minimize any harmful effects.
Symptoms to Look Out For
Some medications are made up of drugs that absorb ultraviolet light, and if you are experiencing sun sensitivity as a side effect then you will likely have a range of distinct symptoms when you come into contact with natural light or artificial UV light, such as from a tanning bed. Some common symptoms to look out for include inflammation and itching of the skin, patches of discolored skin, painful hives, a higher chance of becoming sunburned, patches of dry skin, and skin redness.
Protecting Your Skin
It is always a wise idea to protect your skin when you are out in the sun, but if you are taking a medication that has the potential to cause the above symptoms, it is even more important to take extra precautions. Some of the best ways to protect your skin and avoid suffering the symptoms of photoallergy or phototoxicity brought on by medication include:
1. Stay in the Shade
Avoid direct sunlight, and try to stay in the shade as much as possible. This is especially important during the hottest part of the day where symptoms are likely to be increased. A shady area will help to keep you out of the direct light while allowing you to enjoy the weather.
2. Wear Sunblock
A high SPF sunblock is essential if you are going somewhere hot and sunny while taking a medication that could lead to sun sensitivity. You should wear Factor 30 sunblock at the very least and make sure that it is thoroughly applied before heading outside. In fact, it is a good idea to wear sunblock even if the weather isn’t that great since the sun’s UV rays can still do more harm than you might realize. Pay extra attention to particularly sensitive areas like the skin on your face.
3. Cover Up
Wearing clothes that block the sun is a good way to protect your sensitive skin while still enjoying the outdoors. It’s a good idea to wear breathable, cotton clothing that covers areas like your arms and legs. The more cover a garment offers, the better your protection from the sun.
4. See Your Doctor
Finally, if medications that cause sun sensitivity are interfering with your ability to enjoy your life or are causing very adverse side effects, it might be worth speaking with your doctor about potential alternatives.
A variety of medications from some antianxiety drugs to antibiotics, antihistamines, diuretics, and retinoids have the potential to cause a higher degree of sun sensitivity. If you’re taking a medication that lists this as a side effect, taking extra precautions outdoors is essential.