Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Common Medication Side Effect Many of Us are Unaware Of

A common complaint from patients is that they get red, itchy, burning skin after minimal exposure to sun.  After further questioning, we often come to the conclusion that the patient is on a photosensitizing medication that they were unaware of.

Photosensitivity also known as sun sensitivity is inflammation of the skin caused by the combination of sunlight and certain medications. It causes a redness of the skin similar to sunburn.  The range of skin damage can vary from mild redness to blistering in more severe cases.  The best thing to do when on a photosensitizing medication is to use general sun precautions.  Wearing sunscreen daily with an SPF of 30, avoiding sun exposure during peak hours, and wearing protective clothing are great ways to protect your skin from the sun while on these medications.  Below is a list of common photosensitizing medications.

Diuretics : Lasix, HCTZ
Antibiotics: Tetracyclines, Cipro, Sulfa, Bactrim
Cardiac: Cardizem, Procardia, Cordarone
Acne: Topical Retinoids, Isotretinoin,
Antidepressants, Diabetic medication

This list is just a few of the general medications that can cause photosensitivity. If you are unsure the side effects of your medication it is best to ask the prescribing physician.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Knowledge is Power.

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States?  And that each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.  If that doesn't scare you, current statistics show that 1 American dies every hour from Melanoma.  Makes you rethink that trip to the beach right?
Knowledge is power. The more we educate ourselves on the harmful effects of the sun, the more power we have protecting ourselves and our loved ones from it. 
So what can you do?

  • You should examine yourself regularly.  The best time to do this is after a bath or shower, standing in front of a full length mirror.  If you notice any odd-looking mole or marking, contact your dermatology office ASAP
  • Don’t  sunbathe
  • Avoid sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • When outdoors use SPF 30  and reapply every two hours
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, hats, UV- protective sunglasses
  • Stay away from artificial tanning beds and lamps

If you have never had a baseline skin check or can’t remember the last time you saw your dermatologist, now is the time. If caught early, most skin cancers are curable.  Don’t be another statistic.