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Potential Drug Interactions with the Sun
Advice from your Giant Eagle Pharmacists

As the summer months approach, we must all be mindful of the potential for sunburns. However, many different medications may increase the likelihood of sensitivity to the sun. If a patient is exposed to UV rays while taking certain medications (which can be taken orally OR applied topically) like those listed below, the exposure can lead to irritation or inflammation that looks very much like a sunburn.

Depending on the type of reaction, it may occur with a very small exposure to the drug and sunlight, can occur anywhere from minutes after exposure to days later, and may affect skin that wasn't directly exposed to sunlight. The irritation may also take on one of many possible appearances: exaggerated sunburn, red splotches, extreme itchiness, etc.

Medications that may increase the likelihood of sensitivity to the sun*:

  • Acne medications like isotretinoin and benxoyl peroxide
  • Antibiotics including tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, or sulfonamides
  • Pain medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen
  • Nausea medications like promethazine
  • Diuretics including furosemide, bumetanide, or hydrochlorothiazide
  • Diabetes medications including glipizide or glyburide
  • Cholesterol medications such as simvastatin, pravastatin, or atorvastatin
  • Anti-fungal medications like terbinafine, itraconazole, and griseofulvin
  • Cardiac medications like amiodarone, diltiazem, and enalapril
  • Sulfonamides like sulfamethoxazole, sulfasalazine and sulfisoxazole
  • Topical salicylates including salicylic acid and trolamine salicylate

Sunscreens containing para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) or benzophenones Although sunscreens can also occasionally contain chemicals that contribute to dermatologic irritation, liberal use of sunscreens and minimizing sun exposure is the best way to prevent drug-induced sensitivity to sunlight.

It is important to note that SPF is not always a good indicator of protection when it comes to drug-induced sun sensitivity. SPF commonly refers to protection against UV-B rays, but most drug-induced reactions involve UV-A rays. So look for sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.

To learn more about Giant Eagle Pharmacy, visit GiantEagle.com/Pharmacy.

* This is not a complete list. Consult with your physician or pharmacist on the potential for your prescribed medication to result in increased sensitivity to the sun.

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