Skip main navigation



What is photosensitivity?


Certain medications can make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning booths and cause a photosensitivity reaction. This may result in sunburn; stinging, burning, or itching skin; swelling; blisters; or hives.

Medications causing photosensitivity

Medications that commonly cause photosensitivity reactions include: certain antibiotics (tetracyclines, sulfa antibiotics, quinolones), anti-wrinkle creams and acne medications containing tretinoin, tricyclic antidepressants, cancer treatment drugs, diabetes sulfonylurea drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in high doses, certain heart and high blood pressure medications (hydrochlorothiazide, chlorothiazide, furosemide, amiodarone, captopril, diltiazem, nifedipine) and estrogen (found in birth control pills and hormone replacement).

If you are taking any of the above medications you should avoid the sun during peak hours, apply a sunscreen (preferably with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sun block), and wear protective clothing such as a hat or sunglasses. If you do experience a photosensitive reaction, take a cool bath or shower and try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You may also want to contact your doctor.

Back to Ask a Pharmacist


Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

Your Digital Health Advisor. Powered by WebMD. Manage diabetes with this easy online tool.* Get started.
Your Digital Health Advisor. Powered by WebMD. Manage diabetes with this easy online tool.* Get started.

Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices

20 Points
20 Points

Now you can track your blood pressure and blood glucose.

Start earning points Go Arrow