Can medications make you more sensitive to the sun?

Posted by Susan Brown on August 29, 2017 0 Comments

This summer's must-reads aren't romances or thrillers; they're the warning labels and package inserts for your drugs and supplements. As Consumer Reports on Health warned in a recent article, “[s]ome widely used medications can make you far more sensitive to summer’s sunlight and heat than you’d usually be.”

That sensitivity can mean anything from a reduced ability to sweat to an increase in the amount of fluid you lose through your urine. So it’s important to revisit whatever safety info you have, and to check in with your doctor, who can let you know about potential risks during the brightest, warmest time of year.

Here are some of the better-known substances that may allow summer's sun and heat to hit you harder:



“Antibiotics can cause photosensitivity and phototoxic reactions, meaning that they’re going to worsen your sunburn,” Rech says. “The one that comes to mind right away is Bactrim, or sulfamethoxozole trimethoprim.” Bactrim is prescribed to treat everything from bronchitis to bladder infections. “That’s a big offender, and so are tetracyclines and fluoroqinolones.” That said, you should never, ever skip an antibiotic for the sake of sunbathing, warns Rech. Your doctor can help you juggle your plans and your meds. 

Allergy medications


Some users find that oral antihistamines like diphenydramine (found in products like Benadryl and Dramamine) reduce their ability to sweat. In extreme cases, as the Consumer Reports medical advisory board noted, the overheating that can result leads to cramps, exhaustion, and even heat stroke. If you find that your allergy meds make it difficult for you to cool down, plan outdoor activities for the morning and evening, and try to spend the hottest hours of the day indoors.



Tricyclic antidepressants may cause problems in hot weather because they "prevent the area in your brain that regulates heat response from knowing you’re overheating,” Rech explains. “They can also decrease sweating, which leads to a decrease in heat loss.”

When you’re taking a drug that increases the likelihood of overheating, stay alert for warning signssuch as headaches, lightheadedness, nausea, and weakness. If you experience any of those symptoms, get out of the sun and reach for water or a sports drink with sodium (which will help your body retain fluid until balance is restored). In the event of a severe reaction such as confusion, fever, or fainting, contact your doctor or call 911.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)


“The main non-steroidals that cause phototoxicity are probably not ones that we commonly use," Rech says. But still, caution should be used, especially if you're on other medications. "Any time you’re taking a non-steroidal and going out in the sun I would recommend barrier protection with sunscreen and avoidance if possible, because any of the non-steroidals can worsen [phototoxicity],” Rech explains.

Vitamins and herbs


“A lot of over-the-counter herbal medications [can have phototoxic effects]—for example, St. John’s Wort is a big inducer of photosensitivity, and that medication in particular has a number of drug interactions. Anyone [interested in taking it] should ask their doctor or pharmacist first,” says Rech. Another pill that might put you at risk: Niacin, a form of Vitamin B3 that’s used to treat high cholesterol. It can cause skin reactions, Rech says, "so it could potentially cause [sun sensitivity].”

Topical medications


Significant sun exposure can amplify the effect of transdermal patches (such as Fentanyl, a powerful pain reliever, or Clonidine, which lowers blood pressure) that deliver medication directly through the skin. When you get a sunburn, the blood vessels in the surface of your skin dilate, explains Rech, and that can lead to increased absorption of your meds. So if you’re wearing a patch, it's a good idea to consider long sleeves.



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Do I Need a Planner for my Kid’s Birthday Party?

Posted by Susan Brown on August 17, 2016 0 Comments


     I had kids later in life so I essentially grew up in the 80s. My fondest memories of birthday parties were going to someone’s house, hanging out in their basement playing games, eating pizza and snacks and then having cake. And ice cream! Side note, whatever happened to ice cream with birthday cake? I remember the giant tubs of ice cream after that slab of cake was placed on the plate and the parent serving would say, “would you like a scoop of ice cream with that?” Uh, yes please! After that, we would all sit around in a circle and watch the birthday kid open their presents and relish in the joy that we got our friend just what they wanted. My mother was the exception of course. I had clowns and entertainment and there was one birthday where she even got a trainer to bring a baby chimpanzee. But typically, we had house parties or went to Chuck E. Cheese, McDonald's or the ice skating rink, had some fun with our friends, had cake (with ice cream) and opened presents. That was the formula for a party. Then.

     Fast forward about, ahem, 30 years from 1986 and I now have one child turning six and one turning three. We get invited to no less than two birthday parties a month. A month! And during the school year it escalates. My three year old doesn’t even have friends yet so this is basically the birthday party ‘load’ for one child. It starts with the invite. You have to have a good invite because it sets the tone for the birthday party. Paw Patrol? Star Wars? Fairy party? Whatever the theme is you know everything from there on out related to the party will have that theme.

     Now for the location. Although some people do still have parties at home, they are not just parties at home. Got a juggler? What about an acrobat? Or some live animals to pass around. At a minimum you had better have a bounce house or better yet a water slide because these kids can’t just entertain themselves, people! But really, who are we kidding, why have a party at home when you could have one at a zoo, trampoline park, movie theater or even a hotel! Yes, a hotel for a child’s birthday party.


     Luckily, the birthday food of choice hasn’t changed much since pizza. Everyone loves pizza and all great birthday parties serve it followed by…a very expensive cake? Some people probably spent less on their own wedding cake than some of the cakes I’ve seen at birthday parties. Is that five tiers?! Is that the kid’s name written in gold dust on the side?!!? After the cake (no ice cream, thank you) there are no presents. I mean, everyone brings presents but the gifts are never opened at the party. I’m not sure when this ‘switch’ happened and I’m not sure how the kids feel but I kind of miss that part of the party. Plus, I just like to know if they like my gift.


     Oh, that reminds me, it’s time to get MY child’s gift…the gift bag. This is another phenomenon of the 2010s, the kid’s birthday party thank you gift bag (personalized and themed, of course). Moms, or maybe their birthday party planners, work tirelessly to create a fabulous gift bag for the attendees of their child’s birthday party. I think it’s superfluous and to all the Moms out there…YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE OUT GIFT BAGS!. There, I said it (gasp!) gift bags are unnecessary. That being said, I would like a thank you note. So, now the formula for a kid’s birthday party is… fancy invite, great locale and entertainment, pizza, over the top bakery cake, no gift opening and fabulous goody bags. I think I need a planner.


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