These Medications Make You Way More Sensitive to the Heat and Sun

There are two types of people in this world: Those who lounge on the beach and bask in the sun’s glory, and those who slather on the SPF 100 and stay under the beach umbrella. Perhaps you burn pretty easily (redheads, we feel your pain) while your olive-skinned friends love getting their tan on. Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain — medication can severely impact how well you’ll hold up in the heat.

Some medications, both Rx and over-the-counter, can make you a lot more sensitive to burning, peeling, and overheating. Sun-lovers beware — if you’re on any of these 15 meds and you’re not slathering on sunscreen, you’d be wise to start.

15. Retin-A

Woman Applying Cream

Retin-A cream can make your skin very sensitive. | iStock.com/AndreyPopov

If you’ve ever been to the dermatologist for acne, you’ve probably heard of Retin-A. This powerful retinoid is known for unclogging pores and increasing cell turnover so you can get the gorgeous skin of your dreams in no time. It’s even useful for those looking to get rid of some unwanted wrinkles. Awesome! Here’s what’s not-so-awesome, though — Livestrong.com explains it loses its effectiveness when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. Additionally, it might cause you to burn easier, so it’s best to use it in addition to several layers of sunscreen before you hit the beach.

Next: This common allergy medication can make you extra sensitive to the sun.

14. Benadryl Allergy

Man sneezing in a tissue

Allergies bothering you? You might be tempted to take a Benadryl. | iStock.com

There’s nothing that ruins a perfectly good summer afternoon like allergies. Your eyes itch, your throat hurts, and you’re sneezing as if a pepper shaker is constantly being thrown in your face. That’s probably when you reach for Benadryl Allergy. This antihistamine and decongestant can make you feel a hundred times better — but do yourself a favor and don’t forget to wear your sunscreen and some protective clothing. Drugs.com explains this medication might make you more susceptible to sunburns. This goes for the tanning bed-dweller, too — don’t take Benadryl and then head to the salon.

Next: There’s been controversy about this medication for years. 

13. Accutane

woman looking in mirror

Accutane can help your skin as long as you stay out of the sun. | iStock.com/shironosov

For the most part, the medical community is divided on Accutane. It is considered to be one of the most effective long-term treatments for those with moderate to severe acne, but it comes with a wealth of undesirable side effects. While taking it, your skin becomes quite fragile. The British Association of Dermatologists advises against waxing, dermabrasion, or laser treatments during your treatment. And for up to six months afterward, you should also avoid direct sun exposure. If you do get a sunburn, beware — it’s likely it’ll take longer to heal.

Next: You probably have this medication in your cabinet. 

12. Aleve

medications

Aleve can affect your skin, which you probably didn’t realize. | iStock.com

Aleve looks pretty unassuming — you’ve probably picked it up once or twice for annoying muscle aches you didn’t want to ask your doctor about. You should be wary if you’re taking this non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and heading outdoors, though. Everyday Health recommends avoiding the sun if you’re taking Aleve, as it can cause you to burn more easily. There’s also the possibility of developing a skin rash or bruising easily from this medication — and a burn on top of all of that sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Next: Even antidepressants can impact how your body responds to the sun. 

11. Imapramine

young woman with long blowing blonde hair in neon yellow tank top

This medication can improve your mood, but a sunburn might put a damper on your day. | iStock.com/Halfpoint

You probably didn’t expect antidepressants to impact your summer, but they definitely can. MedlinePlus says Imapramine, and all other tricyclic antidepressants, for that matter, can cause you to be extra sensitive to the sun. And this doesn’t just go for your skin — you should also wear sunglasses if you’re on this med, as you may notice you’ll be squinting in the summer sun more than usual. If you’re someone who loves lying out on a lounge chair, be extra careful — Imapramine can make you drowsy, and falling asleep in the heat of the day isn’t going to be a good look later on.

Next: This common antibiotic makes your skin super sun-sensitive. 

10. Bactrim

woman taking medication

You’ve probably been prescribed Bactrim before — so hopefully you wore sunscreen. | iStock.com/CentralITAlliance

This heavy-duty medication is actually a combination of two antibiotics, says WebMD. This makes it highly effective against all kinds of bacterial infections and even some types of pneumonia. Even if you’re only given a month’s dosage, you still need to be careful if you’re headed out in the sun. CBS News says this drug in particular can make you more sensitive than usual, so dress accordingly. No one wants to be recovering from an infection and look like the neighborhood lobster.

Next: The sun can cause your skin to discolor if you’re on this medication. 

9. Ciprofloxacin

beautiful young women strolling on a beach

Remember your sunscreen if you’re headed outdoors on this antibiotic. | iStock.com/jacoblund

Here’s another antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. Ciprofloxacin actually came into the public eye as a way to treat anthrax during the scare, so you might remember it for that reason. It’s also used to treat urinary tract infections, says Mayo Clinic. Unfortunately, some people don’t fare so well on Ciprofloxacin when they’re out in the sun. You can develop a severe sunburn, skin rash, or discoloration even from just brief periods outdoors. For that reason, the publication suggests avoiding the hottest part of the day (from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and to check with your doctor if you have a severe reaction.

Next: Diuretics like this one can make you susceptible to heat stroke. 

8. Lasix

young woman drinking water

Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water on this medication. | iStock.com/fizkes

This diuretic is very effective for those with high blood pressure or fluid retention. Basically, what happens with these types of pills is they cause your kidneys to get rid of excess water and salt through your urine. This is all fine and well until summer hits, because you can get quite dehydrated. MedlinePlus says you should really avoid prolonged exposure to the sun if you’re taking Lasix, and you should also be wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes. If you’re headed outdoors, don’t forget to bring a full bottle of water.

Next: You’ve definitely taken this medication before. 

7. Advil

bottle pouring pills

You still need to be careful with OTC pain relievers, too. | iStock.com/theevening

If you’re prone to popping an Advil or two for aches and pains, you’ll want to make sure you’re plenty hydrated before doing so. The Weather Channel explains over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can put you at risk for heat stroke or kidney issues if you’re not drinking enough water. Remember: Just because you can buy this med at your local CVS doesn’t mean it’s always completely safe to use. And before you crack open a beer with your friends at the summer cookout, always make sure you’re well-hydrated — especially if you’ve taken a pain reliever.

Next: Those taking this heart medication need to be careful of the sun.

6. Cordarone

Doctor drawing ecg heartbeat chart

This heart rhythm medication might cause your skin some problems if you’re in the sun. | iStock.com/BrianAJackson

For those with life-threatening heart rhythm problems, Cordarone works directly on the heart tissue to normalize the rhythm, PubMed Health explains. Clearly, this is necessary and life-saving for many — but some reports from Europe indicate this medication can cause your skin to turn a blue-gray color when exposed to the sun, according to the Archives of Dermatology. Also, others have experienced redness and swelling of the skin immediately after being out in the sunshine. If you’re taking Cordarone and you’ve been on it for awhile without these symptoms, then don’t think too much of it — you’re probably in the clear. But if you’re just starting the medication, wear sunscreen and notify your doctor of any bizarre skin changes.

Next: You might feel the effects of the heat more intensely if you’re on this blood pressure medication. 

5. Apresoline

Stressed woman having headache

Feeling dizzy? Head indoors and out of the heat. | iStock.com/SIphotography

If you’re like millions of other Americans, you might be at a higher risk for a heart attack or stroke due to your elevated blood pressure. In addition to diet and exercise, Apresoline is a Rx medication that can really help this issue. A few problems may arise if you’re out in the sun and taking this med, though. For one, WebMD notes you may be more prone to dizziness in the heat — this means you should drink plenty of water and sit down if you’re feeling lightheaded at the family barbecue. Your skin may also be more sensitive to the sunlight too, resulting in unwanted burns.

Next: Yes, herbs can affect you in the summertime, too. 

4. St. John’s wort

pills on spoon with leaves

St. John’s wort may help with your ailments, but you might want to skip it in the summer. | iStock.com/Ls9907

Your doctor won’t be giving you a prescription for this one, because it’s actually an herb you can purchase yourself. Whether you believe in the medicinal power of plants or not, the University of Maryland Medical Center notes this herb has been used for its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties since ancient Greece. Since it’s still super popular today, you might want to give it a go — just stay out of the sun if you do so. St. John’s wort doesn’t have many side effects, but it can make your skin super sensitive to the sunlight. If you’re already pale, definitely add that extra layer of SPF 50 just in case.

Next: It’s not just pills and creams you need to be aware of. 

3. Fentanyl skin patches

surgeons

These heavy-duty patches can have severe side effects if exposed to the heat. | iStock.com

It’s only a patch, so how much can the sun really affect this medication? In case you’re unfamiliar, fentanyl patches are often given to people after surgery to treat short-term severe pain, says the Mayo Clinic. Though you’re not ingesting anything, it’s a very strong medication and should be taken seriously. If you’re planning on being in the summer heat, you need to be really careful since heat can cause the medication from the patch to be absorbed into the skin faster, resulting in an overdose. You should also stay away from heating pads, electric blankets, saunas, or even really hot showers.

Next: This medication might be in your favorite bathroom products. 

2. Benzoyl peroxide

Beautiful woman in a bathrobe applying skin moisturizer

Benzoyl peroxide is effective against acne, but you’ll want to be cautious when headed outdoors. | iStock.com/Dejan_Dundjerski

Go through the skin care aisle at your local grocery store and what do you see? Hundreds of anti-acne products that contain benzoyl peroxide, of course. This is one of the most common ingredients in skin care products because it kills acne-causing bacteria. But there’s a downside — like the retinoids discussed before, it can cause your skin to become super sensitive. Verywell explains benzoyl peroxide can cause excessive drying and photosensitivity, which can actually make your skin look older, too. To avoid getting burned and prematurely aged, sunscreen is super important — just make sure it’s oil-free if your skin is breakout-prone.

Next: The American Heart Association suggests staying cool if you’re on this medication. 

1. Norvasc

Doctor's Hand Checking Blood Pressure

Many meds dealing with blood pressure can make you more heat-sensitive. | iStock.com/AndreyPopov

Here’s another medication for those with high blood pressure, but this one works slightly differently than many others. Norvasc is a calcium channel blocker, which basically means it prevents calcium from entering the cells of the heart to help reduce blood pressure, Mayo Clinic notes. But like other medications that affect the heart, you have to be really careful if you’re headed out into the sun. The American Heart Association notes calcium channel blockers (and beta blockers and ace inhibitors, for that matter) can impact your ability to handle the heat. If you’re outside and you develop a headache, lightheadedness, or weakness, you should head indoors.

Read more: Warning Signs You Overdosed on These Medications