Millions of Brits medication makes them more sensitive to the sun as temperatures hit 32C – are you at risk?

MILLIONS of Britons taking certain medicines should take extra care as the weather turns hotter this week.

With temperatures above 30°C it’s important to be aware of the dangers – but don’t stop taking your medication.

Some medications can make the skin more sensitive to the sun


Some medications can make the skin more sensitive to the sunPhoto credit: Getty – Contributor

Meteorologists are predicting the temperature will rise to 30C in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and the Bristol Channel on Tuesday.

But parts of the country are expected to continue to roast on Wednesday and Thursday, with highs of 32C, in Berkshire and the southern Midlands areas.

Many common prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can make skin more sensitive to the sun.

This can affect the skin in a number of ways, from reddening or burning of the skin to an increased risk of skin cancer.

They can also affect the body’s ability to maintain a safe temperature.

Professor Claire Anderson, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, previously said: Some medicines contain ingredients that cause photosensitivity and may cause sunburn-like symptoms, skin rashes, or other undesirable side effects.

“It can be triggered by products that are applied to the skin or drugs that you swallow or inject.

“Many medications can increase photosensitivity, including common drugs like antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and antidepressants, but not everyone who takes them will have a reaction.”

Antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs can increase sweating and increase the risk of dehydration.

Certain oral contraceptives, including the combined pill – the most common form of birth control used by women in the UK – could increase sensitivity to light.

Antibiotics can increase the risk of sunburn.

“The thing that immediately comes to mind is Bactrim, or sulfamethoxozole trimethoprim,” said Megan Rech, a pharmacist at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago, USA Health.

Bactrim (called trimethoprim in the UK) is prescribed by the NHS to treat and prevent SSRIs (UTIs) such as cystitis.

And some people find that antihistamines like diphenydramine (found in products like Benadryl) decrease their ability to sweat.

In hot weather, this side effect can increase the risk of life-threatening consequences, such as severe dehydration or heat stroke.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) said people taking medicines linked to photosensitivity can reduce their risk by “staying away from direct sunlight”.

It also recommended “protecting yourself with a high SPF sunscreen and wearing long sleeves, trousers and a hat”.

The RPS added: “If you have any questions about your medicines and the possibility of a photosensitivity reaction, your pharmacist can advise you.”

The NHS recommends spending time in the shade when the sun is at its strongest, which in the UK is between 11am and 3pm.

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It is also advisable to cover yourself with suitable clothing and sunglasses and to use at least SPF 30.

Sunscreen with at least factor 30 and 4-star UVA protection should be used – two tablespoons if covering the entire body.

am i at risk

There are dozens of medications and over-the-counter medications that can cause sun sensitivity.

The most common include:

  • antibiotics
  • antidepressants
  • antifungals
  • antihistamine
  • Antihypertensives (blood pressure medications)
  • benzocaine
  • benzoyl peroxide
  • cholesterol medication
  • chemotherapy drugs
  • diuretics
  • hypoglycemic drugs
  • neuroleptics
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • retinoids
  • sulfonamides

Source: FDA

Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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