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Take Care When Taking Photosensitizing Drugs

July 25, 2008

Q: The label on my prescription bottle (diabetes med) says to avoid prolonged sun exposure. Why?

A: Some drugs may cause a photosensitivity reaction (sensitivity to UVA rays of the sun or tanning devices). The result can be an exaggerated sunburn or, more rarely, an allergic reaction with itching and a blister-like eruption.

Your best defense is to wear protective clothing and apply a sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays.

Here’s an alphabetized list of potentially photosensitizing drugs (by generic/brand). The list may not be complete, so check prescription labels for a photosensitivity caution.

ANTI-ANXIETY/SLEEPING AGENTS

alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), zolpidem (Ambien)

ANTIBIOTIC/ANTIFUNGAL/ANTIVIRAL AGENTS

acyclovir (Zovirax), amantadine (Symmetrel), azithromycin (Zithromax), capreomycin (Capastat), cefazolin (Ancef), ceftazidime (Fortaz), ciprofloxacin Cipro), cycloserine (Seromycin), dapsone, demeclocycline (Declomycin), doxycycline (Vibramycin), ethionamide (Trecator-SC), flucytosine (Ancobon), gemifloxacin (Factive), griseofulvin (Fulvicin, Gris-PEG), isoniazid (Nydrazid), levofloxacin (Levaquin), lomefloxacin (Maxaquin), metronidazole (Flagyl), minocycline (Minocin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), nalidixic acid (NegGram), norfloxacin (Noroxin), ofloxacin (Floxin) , oxytetracycline (Terramycin), pyrazinamide, ritonavir (Norvir), saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase), sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim (Bactrim), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), sulfisoxazole (Gantrisin), terconazole (Terazol), tetracycline (Achromycin) , voriconazole (VFEND), zalcitabine (Hivid)

ANTI-CANCER AGENTS

bexarotene (Targretin), capecitabine (Xeloda), dacarbazine (DTIC), epirubicin (Ellence), fluorouracil (5-FU), interferon alfa (Intron A, Alferon-N) methotrexate (Mexate), pentostatin (Nipent), procarbazine (Matulane), tretinoin oral (Vesanoid), vinblastine (Velban, Velbe)

ANTICONVULSANTS

carbamazepine (Tegretol), felbamate (Felbatol), gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), topiramate (Topamax), valproic acid (Depakene)

ANTIDEPRESSANTS

amitriptyline (Elavil), amoxapine (Asendin), bupropion (Wellbutrin), citalopram (Celexa), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Sinequan), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), fluvoxamine (Luvox), imipramine (Tofranil), maprotiline (Ludiomil), mirtazapine (Remeron), nefazodone (Serzone), nortriptyline (Pamelor), paroxetine (Paxil), protriptyline (Vivactil), sertraline (Zoloft), trazodone (Desyrel), trimipramine (Surmontil), venlafaxine (Effexor)

ANTIDIABETIC AGENTS

acetohexamide (Dymelor), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glimepiride (Amaryl), glipizide (Glucotrol), glyburide (DiaBeta, Micronase), tolazamide (Tolinase), tolbutamide (Orinase)

ANTIHISTAMINES

cetirizine (Zyrtec), cyproheptadine (Periactin), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), loratadine (Claritin)

ANTI-MALARIA AGENTS

chloroquine (Aralen), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), pyrimethamine (Daraprim), pyrimethamine/sulfadoxine (Fansidar), quinine

ANTIPSYCHOTICS

chlorpromazine (Thorazine), clozapine (Clozaril), fluphenazine (Prolixin), haloperidol (Haldol), loxapine (Loxitane), olanzapine (Zyprexa), perphenazine (Trilafon), prochlorperazine (Compazine), quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), thioridazine (Mellaril), thiothixene (Navane), trifluoperazine (Stelazine), ziprasidone (Geodon)

DIURETICS

bendroflumethiazide (Corzide), chlorthalidone (Thalitone), furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), hydroflumethiazide (Diucardin), indapamide (Lozol), methyclothiazide (Enduron), metolazone (Zaroxolyn), polythiazide (Renese), triamterene (Dyrenium)

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AGENTS

captopril (Capoten), diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac), enalapril (Vasotec), nifedipine (Procardia)

HORMONES

Corticosteroids (e.g., prednisone), Oral contraceptives

LIPID-LOWERING AGENTS

atorvastatin (Lipitor), fenofibrate (Tricor), fluvastatin (Lescol), gemfibrozil (Lopid), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), simvastatin (Zocor)

PAIN-RELIEVERS

celecoxib (Celebrex), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), dantrolene (Dantrium), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren), diflunisal (Dolobid), etodolac (Lodine), ibuprofen (Motrin), ketoprofen (Orudis), mefenamic acid (Ponstel), meloxicam (Mobic), nabumetone (Relafen), naproxen (Anaprox), oxaprozin (Daypro), piroxicam (Feldene), sulindac (Clinoril), sumatriptan (Imitrex)

TOPICAL AGENTS (applied to the skin)

benzocaine (Americaine), benzyphenones, cinnamates, coal tar, hexachlorophene (PHisoHex), minoxidil (Rogaine), PABA, tacrolimus (Prograf, Protopic), tazarotene (Tazorac), tretinoin (Renova, Retin-A)

OTHER

amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone), chlorhexidine (Peridex, Hibiclens), clopidogrel (Plavix), gold salts, isotretinoin (Accutane), methoxsalen (Uvadex, Oxsoralen), promethazine (Phenergan), quinidine, selegiline (Eldepryl), sotalol (Betapace), thalidomide (Thalomid)

DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS

bitter orange, chlorella, dong quai, gossypol, gotu kola, St. John’s wort, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

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(Richard Harkness is a consultant pharmacist, natural medicines specialist and author of eight published books. Write him at 1224 King Henry Drive, Ocean Springs, MS 39564 or rharkn@aol.com.)

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(c) 2008, The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.).

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