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Spring is here .. be aware

Spring is a good time to be aware if you are extra sun sensitive due to the medicines you take. Look out as the UV index is climbing to high levels now in northern Aotearoa and to moderate further south.  Try to use a combination of clothing/hats/seeking shade, avoiding high UV times of day, along with sunscreen.  Several prescription medicines can make you more sun sensitive and you should be extra vigilant. Ask your doctor if your medicine has a warning about sun sensitivity. Sometimes medicines need to be changed if this is more troublesome or severe.   

Thiazides are a common blood pressure treatment - thiazides reduce risk of heart attack and stroke but are also associated with sun sensitivity and increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer, discuss this with your doctor if you have a history of skin cancers.  Immune suppressing medications can also increase your skin cancer risk and some, such as methotrexate and azathioprine, also cause direct sun sensitivity. Doxycycline and isotretinoin are two common medicines your dermatologist may have prescribed that increase sun sensitivity. 

Even creams can cause sun sensitivity. Take particular care if using Efudix cream, florid reactions to sunlight can develop.  This is not the best time to start Efudix prescribed for use in the winter unless you know you will take extreme care.  Over the counter items are also a potential source of sun induced rashes, ibuprofen along with some prescribed non-steroid anti-inflammatories, St John’s Wort and some other herbal supplements. DermNetNZ has a helpful page on Drug-induced photosensitivity but talk to your GP or dermatologist if you have particular concerns.