Can Prescription Medications Increase The Risk Of Sun Poisoning?


If you plan on going on in the sun anytime soon and you take any prescription medications or natural remedies, you should beware that some of these medications will increase your chance of receiving a severe sun poisoning. In fact, this is a long list of different medications that can increase your body’s sensitivity to the sun. This can mean that even if you apply sunscreen or other forms of sun protection while taking these medications that your skin is still more responsive to the sun’s harmful rays. In many cases, it’s recommended to not stay outside as long as you normally would.

There are also certain days when your risk of getting a sun poisoning or burn is higher than normal. These are days that have high UV readings according to the Sunburn Index, also known at the UV Index. It’s very important for those with light skin to keep an eye on the UV Index, especially if they are taking these photosensitivity increasing medications.

What Types of Drugs are Photosensitive?

There are many different types of drugs that are increase the sensitivity of a person’s skin to the sun. These may include: certain medications for heart disease, epilepsy, or diabetes; many different medications that are prescribed for the treatment of depression, anxiety, or mental illnesses; some antifungals and some antibiotics; a few skin treatments such as microdermabrasion or chemical peels; some chemotherapy agents; some acne medications; and some antimalarials.

If your doctor or healthcare provider has warned you before about the dangers of your medications when in the sun, you should take extreme precautions before you go outside, especially for any extended amount of time.

Sometimes doctors neglect to mention these side effects of medications, so it’s always a good idea to ask if you are unsure. Sometimes these medications will come with a sheet containing information about the side effects and reactions you could get while on the medication. If they do not come with the prescription, ask for a copy of these sheets. Keep in mind that this is very important to those who are starting new medications, or for those taking newly on the marketing drugs, as the list of side effects for a drug can be updated even after it’s approved by the FDA.

Can Over The Counter Drugs Cause Photosensitivity?

Simply put, the answer is yes; even drugs that don’t require prescriptions can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sun poisoning. This may be a problem if you use these medications on both a short term or regular basis. If you are taking a medication and you notice that you get a sunburn quicker than usual, or the sunburns you get are more severe than normal, you should take extra precautions before going outside in the sun until you are finished with the medication. If your doctor has advised you to take an over the counter medication, then the next time you visit or have an appointment, be sure to discuss this with them.

Here is a list of over the counter medications that can increase your sensitivity to sun poisoning.

  • Herbal remedies such as St. John’s wort and Dong quai.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or aspirin.
  • Antihistamines (Benadryl)
  • Skin products or fragrances that contain lavender oils, bergamot oils, sandalwood oils, or musk oils.

Weirdly enough, there are also certain sunscreens that can increase you chance of a sun poisoning. If you use sunscreen and take any of the medications mentioned above, it’s a good to not use any of the products mentioned below. You should also learn how to apply sunscreen properly so that you can protect your skin against the sun. The sunscreens listed below are listed in a “sunburn booster” list from WebMD.com:

  • Dibenzoylmethanes
  • Salicylates
  • Benzophenones
  • Cinnamates
  • PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid)
  • Cyclohexanol