Don’t forget when taking antihistamines to apply your sunscreen. Antihistamines are one of many categories of medication that can result in increased photosensitivity, or sun sensitivity. Photosensitivity is an inflammation of the skin caused by the combination of sunlight and sufficient amounts and types of substances or medications.
Antihistamines, like some other medications, can intensify your skin’s reaction to sun exposure. Taking these medications may make you more susceptible to sunburn and increase your risk of skin cancer even when wearing sunscreen and using other forms of protection. You may find that you are more susceptible to sunburn and cannot stay outside in the sun as long as you would like. Fair-skinned individuals may burn in a shorter amount of time.
Along with antihistamines, there are many other photosensitizing medications including:
•Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve)
•Some antihypertensives (blood pressure medications)
•Some antibiotics (tetracycline and sulfamethoxazole or Bactrim)
If you are taking medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist for a sheet listing all known side effects. Read it carefully. Don’t forget to ask whether your over-the-counter medications increase sun sensitivity. Make a note if you seem to burn more easily when taking a particular medication and discuss it with your healthcare provider.
Photosensivity will vary based on the individual but there are some precautions you should take.
•Wear wide-brimmed sun hats and protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Consider purchasing sun protective clothing with a UPF of 50.
•When outdoors, gravitate toward the shade, provided by trees, patios or overhanging roofs. Carry an umbrella to make sure you always have shade.
•Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 with micronized zinc oxide.
•Use at least one ounce (two tablespoons) of sunscreen. Most people don’t use enough sunscreen.
•Wear sunblock year-round. Reapply every two hours and immediately after swimming or sweating heavily.
•Put on a full-spectrum lip balm