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Prevention | Facts about Suntan | Prevention and Tanning

Prevention is the secret to having fun in the sun. In order to have a happy long life there are certain measures that everyone must follow for the health of you and your loved ones. Please take the necessary steps, tips and advice to ensure long, vigorous and blissful lives.


Sun and Medications


One of the side effects of some medications is an increased sensitivity to the sun while you are taking them. The medications that are most likely to contribute to this problem include some prescription drugs that control blood pressure, arthritis, depression, as well as anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), antibiotics and birth control pills. Be sure to read the information sheets you receive when you pick up your prescription. You can also ask the pharmacist if you know you will be out in the sun during the time you will be on the medication. 


Some that may be surprising are everyday over the counter items you can purchase anywhere. 


  • Pain killers and anti-inflammatory such as Advil (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen).
  • For teens acne medications with benzoyl peroxide such as Clearasil can cause sun sensitivity.
  • Topical anesthetics which contain benzocaine and landocaine, such as Orajel, Sucrets, Lanacaine, Solarcaine and Anbesol
  • Allergy drugs including Actifed (antihistamine) and Antivert (antihistamine)
  • Sunscreen products which contain cinnamate, oxybenzone, homosalate or PABA and/or PABA esters
  • Herbal antidepressant St. John’s wort


Reactions can be placed in two categories, phototoxic and photoallergic. 


A phototoxic drug reaction is most affected by UVA, happens quickly and closely resembles sunburn. It is possible for UVB and visible light to cause this reaction but is less likely. This reaction may be caused because the drug can be activated by exposure to sunlight. Fortunately the reaction discontinues after the drug clears the body and future sun exposure will not cause another reaction.


A photoallergic reaction is triggered by ultraviolet exposure which causes the drugs structure to change. Topical drugs are the most likely to cause this type of reaction. The drug is then seen as an invading enemy which causes the immune system to arm itself. This arming is manifested in allergy type symptoms and inflammation of the skin exposed to the sun. It closely resembles eczema and commonly lasts a long time. This photosensitivity can recur with sun exposure even after the drug has cleared the system. Play it safe by reading labels and be aware of how your skin is reacting to the sun.


Sunburn and Skin Cancer


According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, sunburns are not to be taken lightly. The most serious form of skin cancer, melanoma, has been directly related to sunburn. In a recent poll it was found that most people (42%) are sunburned at least once a year. This significantly increases the risk of developing melanoma in your lifetime according to research.


The factors that contribute to the increased risk are as follows:


  • Childhood and adolescent sunburns - Doubles the risk of adult melanoma.  Babies under six months should not be out in the sun without massive protection.  On the advice of doctors sunscreen should NOT be part of this protection, umbrellas, UV clothing and the like are recommended.  Sunburns in a child under a year should be treated as an emergency.  UV blocking sunglasses are also a childhood necessity.
  • Five or more sunburns at any age – Sunburns, brief intense exposure to sun as opposed to tanning may result in melanoma skin cancer but may also trigger basal cell carcinoma. 
  • Skin type – Types are rated from I to VI or from fair to darker.  Fair people (Type I and II) rarely or never tan and should use sunscreen of SPF 30+.  Wearing UV rated clothing is also advised.  Types III to VI should use SPF 15+ with Type VI susceptible to acral lentiginous melanoma, a black or brown discoloration under the nails and on the palms and soles of the feet.
  • Having a large number of moles – Many moles are the result of sun exposure.  Symmetrical, round, either flat or raised and brown colored while melanoma are asymmetrical, multicolored and change shape over time.  Multiple moles that resemble melanoma called dysplastic neva may be a sign of higher risk for deadly melanoma.


Remember sunscreen, UV blocking clothing, UV blocking sunglasses, umbrellas and extreme caution during prime sun time 10AM to 4PM will make your time in the sun more FUN.  Checking the UV index will provide you with information regarding the type of UV rays you need to prepare for while out in the sun. We care about you and your loved ones, so please check out our UV tanning index and have fun out in the sun!


Sun Allergy or Sun Poisoning


Sun poisoning or a sun allergy is a very rare condition. When you go out in the sun do you have any of the following symptoms? 


  • Itchy, red rash or hives (solar urticaria)
  • Red blotches
  • Burning
  • Blistering


It looks very different from a burn in that it occurs in patches, which most often occur on the chest, neck, arms and thighs.  What is happening is the UV rays are triggering an immune system response which results in an inflammation of cells or proteins in the skin.  If your exposure is too long then the following symptoms should send off alarm bells and a dermatologist should be consulted.


  • Rash that covers a large area
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Continues despite keeping out of the sun over a period of time


Though these reactions may be viewed as more of an inconvenience, they can also be the first signs of systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease. Sensitivity to the sun seems to have several names including the very scientific sounding photodermatitis or solar dermatitis and polymorphous light eruption. Some factors that can act as triggers include:


  • Fair skin seems to be the most susceptible
  • Lotions, creams, soaps, perfumes and some sun protection products
  • Certain medications
  • Certain chemicals
  • Herbs such as St John’s wort


The condition may resolve itself in a week or so but there are medications a dermatologist can prescribe if it is too uncomfortable or persistent. These include antihistamines and cortisone creams.


The best preventative measures include limiting sun exposure, wearing UV blocking sun glasses, long-sleeved clothing, a wide brimmed hat, umbrella and appropriate sunscreen products. By gradually increasing exposure after being out of the sun for a season the chances of sun poisoning decrease. So be wise and you can still enjoy the outdoors.



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