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Sun and drugs:risk associations

Sun and drugs:risk associations Many drugs induce abnormal sensitivity and reactivity of the skin to the sun. Better to take the maximum of precautions so that beautiful season does not rhyme with redness and itching.

Sun and drugs don't always go well together, and can even form a harmful cocktail.

Once swallowed, the capsules and tablets release active ingredients which spread throughout the body, including the skin. From there, ultraviolet (UV) rays can reach them and transform them into toxic or allergenic substances. All it takes is low-intensity radiation to end up with nasty burns, itchy redness, or even eczema or hives on the arms, face or décolleté.


Not all drugs are phototoxic or photoallergenic, but many antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, anti-allergics, anti-acne, anxiolytics, antidepressants, diuretics are.

They cause an exaggerated reaction of the skin to the sun, disproportionate to the duration of exposure and the intensity of the rays received. In case of allergy, even unexposed areas can be affected.

How to anticipate well?

The most sensitizing remedies theoretically have a distinctive logo on the box, but this is not always easy to discern. For greater safety, read the instructions for your medication carefully or ask your pharmacist if your prescription includes a risky product.

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The best is of course to suspend the taking of the incriminated products in the summer. But this is not always possible. Above all, do not take any initiative on your own. But ask your doctor if your prescription cannot be modified:substitution of photoallergenic specialties by others which are not, or change of times of intake (around 6 p.m. rather than in the morning, so that the cutaneous concentration of active ingredients is minimal at hours of exposure).

What precautions to take with photosensitizing drugs?

"The photo-protective capsules, containing beta-carotenes and/or vitamins C and E, reduce the risk of sunburn and allergy", underlines Dr Joëlle Anconina-Finel, dermatologist. To be taken as a cure at least 15 days before the first tanning session. But unfortunately they do not solve everything. They reduce skin intolerance reactions to the sun, but do not eradicate them.

To avoid taking unnecessary risks, be extra vigilant when taking photosensitizing drugs. "Never expose yourself between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m., wear covering clothes, a hat, sunglasses and use high index sunscreens (50+)", advises Dr Anconina-Finel. Reapply them regularly, even when swimming, as the water produces a magnifying effect on the skin.

Namely:certain perfumes, deodorants and cosmetic creams are also photo-sensitizing.

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