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Beware of Sunburn Boosters

Some medicines and skin care products can increase your sensitivity to the sun. Here’s how to avoid getting burned.

Sun Sensitivity: Protecting Your Skin continued...

Not sure which sunscreen to buy? The American Academy of Dermatology recommends choosing one that offers broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. A sunscreen’s SPF rating measures effectiveness against UVB rays, which damage the outer layer of skin and cause sunburns. UVA rays penetrate the middle layer of your skin, and are the most likely to trigger drug-induced sun sensitivity reactions, says  Herschenfeld.

Check the ingredient list for good UV covereage. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends to look for ingredients such as ecamsule (Mexoryl SX),  titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone.

Beyond sunscreen, dermatologists offer these suggestions for avoiding sun damage: Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when ultraviolet rays are strongest; wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses; wear long-sleeved shirts and pants; and stay in the shade.

If you have a reaction, treatment usually consists of cool compresses and corticosteroids applied to the skin. Your doctor may advise you to avoid the sun or an irritating substance that caused the reaction, such as lime peel; make changes in your medication; or, in severe cases, prescribe corticosteroids.

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Reviewed on May 19, 2009

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