Sun-Sensitive Drugs (Photosensitivity to Drugs) (cont.)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- What is photosensitivity?
- What is the difference between a photoallergic and a phototoxic reaction?
- Photoallergic and phototoxic reaction pictures
- What is ultraviolet light?
- What are the symptoms of sun sensitivity (photosensitivity)?
- What are some common sun-sensitizing drugs?
- Phototoxic drugs
- Photoallergic drugs
- Are there any medical conditions that can cause photosensitivity?
- How is sun sensitivity (photosensitivity) diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a photosensitizing drug reaction?
- Is anyone taking these drugs at risk for developing sunburn?
- Can any foods cause sun sensitivity (photosensitivity) reactions?
- Pictures of sun-sensitivity (photosensitivity) reactions
- Are there any medical applications of sun sensitivity (photosensitivity)?
- Sun-Sensitizing (Photosensitivity) Drugs At A Glance
What are the symptoms of sun sensitivity (photosensitivity)?
Symptoms of phototoxic reaction
Individuals with phototoxic reactions may initially complain of a burning and stinging sensation. Then the redness typically occurs within 24 hours of the exposure to sun in the exposed areas of the body such as the forehead, nose, hands, arms, and lips. In severe cases, the sun protected areas of skin may be also be involved.
The range of skin damage may vary from mild redness to swelling to blister formation (bullae) in more severe cases. The rash from this photosensitivity reaction usually resolves with sloughing off (desquamation) of the affected area within several days.
Symptoms of photoallergic reactions
Individuals with photoallergic reactions may initially complain of itching (pruritus). This is then followed by redness and possibly swelling and eruption of the involved area. Because this is considered an allergic reaction, there may be no symptoms for many days when the drug is taken for the first time. Subsequent exposure to the drug and the sun may cause a more rapid response in 1-2 days.
Hyperpigmentation after reaction
Hyperpigmentation (darkening) of the affected area of the skin may develop after the resolution of a phototoxicity reaction, but it is rare in a photoallergic reaction. In phototoxic reactions, high doses of the drug and long exposures to light may be required to cause the reaction.
What are some common sun-sensitizing drugs?
Common phototoxic drugs include the following:
- quinolones [for example, ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Cipro XR, Proquin XR), levofloxacin (Levaquin)]
- tetracyclines [for example, tetracycline (Achromycin), doxycycline (Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox and others)]
- sulfonamides [for example, sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim; cotrimoxazole (Bactrim, Septra), sulfamethoxazole (Gantanol)]
- diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
Learn more about: Benadryl
- quinine (Quinerva, Quinite, QM-260)
- chloroquine (Aralen)
- hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil)
Cancer chemotherapy drugs
- 5-fluorouracil (5-FU, Efudex, Carac, Fluoroplex)
- vinblastine (Velban, Velsar)
- dacarbazine (DTIC-Dome)
- amiodarone (Cordarone)
- nifedipine (Procardia)
- quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinidex)
- diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac)
- furosemide (Lasix)
- thiazides [hydrochlorothiazide (Hydrodiuril)
Learn more about: Lasix
- sulfonylureas [chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glyburide (Micronase, DiaBeta, Glynase)]
- Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs [naproxen (Naprosyn, Naprelan, Anaprox, Aleve), piroxicam (Feldene)
- photodynamic therapy for skin cancer [ALA or 5-aminolevulinic acid (Levulan), Methyl-5-aminolevulinic acid)
- isotretinoin (Accutane)
- acitretin (Soriatane)
- phenothiazines [chlorpromazine (Thorazine)]
- tricyclic antidepressants [desipramine (Norpramin), imipramine (Tofranil)
Next: Photoallergic drugs
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