There’s nothing better than spending a lazy Summer Saturday basking in the sun. As the days get warmer we all want to be outside having fun, but for people with acne-prone or sensitive skin, summertime isn’t always fun and games. You probably already know about the importance of wearing sunscreen and protecting your skin from sunburn, but what you don’t know is that your acne medication combined with sun exposure can cause irreversible damage to skin leading to premature aging.
Almost all prescription acne medications have side effects, some worse than others. For example, isotretinoin could cause severe depression, liver damage and birth defects in pregnant women, chemical face washes can over-dry and even burn the skin making it ultra-sensitive, and antibiotics can promote nausea, intestinal infections, resistance to antibiotics and hormone changes. In addition to this, many of these prescription or over the counter acne medications cause increased sun sensitivity which leads to more sunburns, skin discolouring (such as blotches or freckles) a higher risk rate for skin cancer and premature aging. Here’s the lowdown on different acne treatments and how they increase sun sensitivity:
Many of these acne treatments work as exfoliants; chemically removing the top layer of the skin. While this can help reduce the appearance of pimples and acne lesions, it can also prematurely expose a new layer of fresh skin which can be extremely sensitive to the sun. Combined with sun exposure this results in shorter burn times, darkening of the skin, spotting, freckling and more severe sunburns.
Laser Treatments and Microdermabrasion
Laser acne treatments and microdermabrasion are two of the most common acne treatments performed by beauty skin clinics. These therapies could help remove acne superficially, but because the nature of these treatments is based on removing a layer of skin, leaving skin ultra-sensitive and prone to sunburn, discolouration and irritation when exposed to direct sunlight.
Antibiotics and isotretinoin are two of the leading prescription acne treatments. They don’t topically remove a layer of skin like some other treatments, but known side effects include highten levels of sun sensitivity in many users. Keep in mind that these drugs affect the entire body; not just the face or acne-affected areas, so remember to wear sunscreen or cover up all exposed skin.
How to Avoid Sun Damage
Planning before a day in the sun is essential! It is important to remember that your skin, when taking acne medications, is much more sensitive and will burn much quicker than without the acne medication. If you are going to spend time in the sun whilst taking acne medication, make sure that you a sunscreen with at least SPF 30, and applying it at least 20 minutes before sun exposure and reapply frequently when spending prolonged amounts of time in the sun. Wearing a hat or covering exposed or sensitive areas of skin can also be beneficial in preventing sun damage.