Drugs That Cause Photosensitivity

photosensitivityCertain medications can make you more sensitive to the sun. These medications can make it take less time and less sun to cause a sunburn or rash. The best treatment is to protect your skin. Do not stop or start medications without first talking to your doctor. 


Common medications that may cause photosensitivity

  • Antibiotics: Doxycyline, Tetracycline, Minocycline.
  • Mental Health: Amitriptyline, Clomipramine, Desipramine, Doxepin, Imipramine, Nortriptyline, Chlorpromazine, Fluphenazine, Perphenazine.
  • All birth control pills; Viagra®, Levitra®
  • Water pills: Acetazolamide, Furosemide, Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ).
  • Heart: Amiodarone, Quinidine.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Celebrex®, ibuprofen, meloxicam (Mobic®), naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
  • Diabetes: Glipizide, Glyburide.
  • Acne: Adapalene, Benzoyl Peroxide, Bexarotene, Salicyclic Acid, Tazarotene, Tretinoin.
  • Other medications and herbals (ask your pharmacist or doctor before using).

How do I protect my skin?

  1. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or more.
    • Broad-spectrum protects against UVA and UVB rays.
    • UVA rays age skin causing wrinkles, age spots and can pass through windows.
    • UVB rays are responsible for causing sun burns and are blocked by windows.
    • Both UVA and UVB rays cause cancer and damage skin.
    • Sunblock works by absorbing or reflecting the UVA and UVB rays.
    • SPF 30 or Sun Protection Factor 30 offers 97 percent protection from the sun’s rays. The higher the SPF the slightly more protection it provides and lasts the same amount of time.
  2. Put sunscreen on 15–30 minutes before going outside.
  3. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more often if swimming or sweating.
    • Water resistant sunscreen lasts for 40 or 80 minutes depending on the label.
    • No sunscreen is waterproof.
  4. Protect your lips with a lip balm with SPF 15 or more.
  5. Avoid going outside between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun is the strongest.
  6. Wear a long sleeve shirt, hat and sunglasses.

Is there a safe way to tan?

No. Tanning speeds up the aging of the skin and increases risk for all types of cancer. Tanning beds produce artificial UV light which has been labeled as a cancer causing substance. Wearing sunscreen will prevent sunburns but does not protect against premature aging.

What products can I use on my baby?

Sunscreens are suggested for babies six months or older. Children under six months have very sensitive skin and should avoid the sun’s rays. Keep babies in the shade and dress them in a wide brim hat, sunglasses and long-sleeve shirt. This is the best protection.