Those “dog days” of summer are here, and spending time in the sun is what summer is all about for many of us. But a recent article in U.S. News & World Report had some interesting things to say about the sun and the causes of sun sensitivity.
You are exposed to more of the sun’s UV rays when you go to the beach, a lake or a pool because sand and water reflect the sun’s rays. Exposure is also greater in the mountains where the air is thinner and the sun’s rays are more intense. So, extra protection is called for if you plan to spend time in the mountains or by the sea. But did you know that there are some lesser known factors that can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun? Read on.
- Some medications, foods and even skin-care products can cause photosensitivity or phototoxicity, chemically-induced reactions in the skin that make it unusually sensitive to sunlight, sometimes resulting in a severe sunburn to exposed skin.
- •Photoallergy occurs when exposure to UV rays changes a substance in a food, drug or product into a new substance which the body recognizes as foreign and subsequently activates the immune system. Photoallergy develops over time and can take a few days to appear in the form of an itchy rash.
- People with autoimmune diseases such as lupus, or acquired conditions like polymorphic light eruptions – a rash that occurs in people who have developed a sun sensitivity – are most susceptible to photosensitivity. But anyone who ingests or uses the following substances may be at risk:
- Drugs – Anti-fungal drugs, antihistamines, oral contraceptives, NSAIDs, antibiotics, oral diabetes drugs, diuretics and tricyclic antidepressants can cause photosensitivity. The herbal remedy, St. John’s wort, can also cause sun sensitivity.
- Foods – Celery, dill, fennel, figs, lime, parsley and wild carrots can increase sun sensitivity.
- Essential oils and perfumes – Scents like lavender, lemon verbena, bergamot, bitter orange, musk, rosemary or sandalwood can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
- Skin-care products – Watch for ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, and tretinoins. These agents strip the outer layer of the skin, making it more sensitive to the sun. Benzoyl peroxide, which is in many over-the-counter acne products, can also cause photosensitivity.
It’s important to remember that photosensitivity reactions aren’t universal; not everyone who takes a certain drug or uses a particular product will experience photosensitivity.
- As a general rule, stay out of the sun between 11a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Choose a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and reapply it often.
- Wear sun-protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
We want you to have a marvelous summer. If you think you are sun-sensitive, ask us about taking an oral supplement (Heliocare) which contains antioxidant compounds that protect the skin from free radical damage.