Medications And Sun….The Risk Of Sunburn And Photosensitivity
Posted Aug 03 2010 3:02pm
Oh, Summer! The weather is warm, the sun is shining and it is the time when we try to get outside as much as possible. Summer is my favorite time of the year. I love the beach, days that are filled with light and sunshine, trips to the orchards and hanging out in the backyard. The sunshine that makes the summer such a happy time, improves our mood and fills everything around us with life and energy of course has its darker, dangerous side.
As a source of UVA and UVB radiation the sun may increase the risk of various skin reactions in people on medications. Today I want to talk about medications and sunlight. Many medications that we are taking may increase the risk of photosensitivity or an exaggerated reaction of the skin to the effects of the sun exposure. The photosensitivity reactions are generally divided into two categories: the phototoxic reactions and photoallergic reactions. The phototoxic reactions look like a very bad sunburn and usually you see them on the areas of the skin that are exposed to sunlight. The photoallergic reactions may look like an itchy skin rash and may occur on the areas that were exposed to the sunlight as well on other areas of the body.
UVA rays play a major role in the development of photosensitivity reactions, so to decrease the risk of developing photosensitivity the skin should be protected against both UVA and UVB radiation. At the present time sunscreens are not rated on the level of UVA protection that they may provide. There is a proposal to start a rating system with 4 stars being the highest level of UVA protection. Broad spectrum sunscreens that contain Zinc Oxide and to some extant Titanium Dioxide (may have limited UVA coverage) have both UVA and UVB coverage, they form a physical barrier against UVA and UVB radiation penetrating the skin. Avobenzone is an ingredient that provides reliable UVA coverage and it is available in the sunscreens used in the United States.