Medications That Can Cause Sun Sensitivity – Dr Wendy Davis ND

Medications That Can Cause Sun Sensitivity

We all feel better with a dose of fresh air and the warm sun on our skin.  The sun has so many healing benefits but for some people who have to take certain medications, too much sun exposure can be harmful, since some medications can make you more sensitive to sunlight, which can cause your skin to burn more easily. 
It's important to know if you or a family member is taking a medication that causes sun sensitivity, and how to protect yourself if you are.
10 Medications that Can Cause Sun Sensitivity
There are a number of medications that can cause sun sensitivity. This is not an exhaustive list, but covers some of the most common medications to be aware of this summer
1. Antibiotics like doxycycline and ciprofloxacin
Antibiotics and sun exposure typically don’t mix well. But there are a few that really increase the risk of sun sensitivity.
Tetracycline antibiotics, especially doxycycline, cause sun sensitivity. This will generally show up as a sunburn that sets in faster, or is more severe, than usual. 
There is some evidence that higher doses make photosensitivity more likely. 
Symptoms of doxycycline sun sensitivity seem to resolve about 10-14 days after stopping the medication.
Fluoroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), are another group of antibiotics that can make you more sensitive to the sun. Usually, a severe sunburn is what most people experience with quinolones and sun exposure. 
Sun sensitivity from quinolones typically ends about a week after you stop taking it.
2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Naproxen
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), are some of the most common over the counter pain relievers. They’re also a very common cause of photosensitivity.
Naproxen can cause you to burn more easily, or cause small blisters to appear after sun exposure.
Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) is very unlikely to cause sun sensitivity.
3. Acne medications like Accutane (isotretinoin)
Sun sensitivity is a very common side effect of the oral acne medication Isotretinoin (Accutane). 
Isotretinoin makes the skin more sensitive in general, which makes it more likely that you’ll get a sunburn while taking it.
4. Acne medications like Retin-A (tretinoin)
Tretinoin (Retin-A) is an acne medication that’s applied topically and also causes sun sensitivity as a side effect. 
Similar to isotretinoin, you’re more likely to get a sunburn with tretinoin treatment. And, you may burn faster or easier than you would without the medication.
5. Thiazide diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide
Thiazide diuretics, especially hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), can cause a few different photosensitivity reactions. 
They can cause you to sunburn more easily or severely and they can also cause eczema-like rashes and darkened patches to appear after sun exposure. 
There are some reports that these rashes and skin changes can last for months to years after stopping thiazides.
6. Some Diabetes medications
Skin sensitivity, especially from the sun, has been reported with some diabetes medications. Sulfonylureas, such as glyburide and glipizide can cause small, blister-like patches after sun exposure. These can last for weeks to months after stopping the medications.
Sun sensitivity has also been reported with Metformin and Sitaglipitin (Januvia), but luckily these reactions are less common.
7. Depression medications like Tricyclic antidepressants
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as amitriptyline, have been available for several decades and there are reports that they cause skin reddening and widespread rashes. Some TCAs may also cause a purple or gray skin discolouration after sun exposure.
8. Some Antihistamines
Antihistamines taken for seasonal allergies can be  a potential cause of sun sensitivity. This side effect has been documented with the newer antihistamines like loratadine (Claritin), but even some certain older antihistamines, like promethazine, seem to be more strongly linked to it.
9. Some Auto-Immune suppressant medications like Methotrexate
Methotrexate is often prescribed for different autoimmune disorders and cancers. And like many other medications, it can also make it easier for you to burn. 
However, methotrexate is unique as it can actually reactivate old burns. So if you were previously sunburned, or received radiation as a cancer treatment, methotrexate can cause these burns to return.
10. Some heart medications like Amiodarone
Amiodarone is a medication that can help treat arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms). It’s well-known for many side effects, with sun sensitivity being one. 
Amiodarone can make sunburns more likely. But long-term treatment combined with sun exposure can also lead to a blue-gray skin discoloration.