5 sneaky instances that up your sun sensitivity

Has this ever happened to you? You dutifully slap on the sunscreen and wear a big floppy hat at the beach But your skin is still incredibly sun sensitive--getting itchy, splotchy, or burned anyway. What’s going on?

It might be worth taking a closer look at your medications as well as what else you might be putting on your skin. The truth is, certain ingredients can make skin more photosensitive than usual, and people may be vulnerable to varying degrees. To be safe, here are a few examples as to when you should be extra-diligent about staying in the shade and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30, even when you're just running errands. 

1. If you’re taking antibiotics. There are a few antibiotics that can cause sun sensitivity—tetracycline derivatives (such as doxycyclone and, to a lesser extent, minocycline) are perhaps the most common. So if you’re taking antibiotics for any reason (whether it’s to treat a urinary tract infection or control severe acne) ask your doctor about whether photosensitivity is a side effect.

2. If you’re using acne medication. Besides antibiotics, other types of acne medications can make you more photosensitive. Check out the tiny print in the ingredients label. Does it have benzoyl peroxide and alpha hydroxy acid? If so, you might find skin more prone to sunburn.

3. If you’re on a wrinkle cream regimen.  Products that smooth fine lines or brighten skin tend to have ingredients that can increase sun sensitivity. Be especially careful of alpha hydroxy acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, and retinoids. 

4. If you’re taking pain medicine. That pill you took to treat your headache pain can lead to an entirely different kind of discomfort—sunburn. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (like ibuprofen and naproxen) are common culprits. 

5. If you’ve been exposed to essential oils. Photosensitivity depends on the type of essential oil and also how it’s extracted.  For instance, bergamot, lime, lemon, ginger, and mandarin are often common culprits. How much it’s diluted also makes a difference. Read instructions (if any) carefully, or ask your doctor. Whatever the case may be, stay in the shade and use sun protection diligently.

[Photo by Pexels from Pixabay]

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