Series: How to prevent sun damage: Focus on photo-sensitivity
As you prepare for summer fun in the sun, it’s important to protect your skin from the sun’s damaging UV rays. Sun protection is even more crucial when your skin is photo sensitive. Photo-sensitivity is an abnormally high sensitivity to sunlight.
Sometimes called a sun allergy, photo-sensitivity is an immune system reaction triggered by sunlight. Some skin care products and rejuvenation procedures cause photo-sensitivity. The epidermis, your skin’s outermost layer, protects your skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Skin care products and rejuvenation procedures that damage or remove the epidermis cause photo-sensitivity.
Symptoms Of Photo-Sensitivity
- Exaggerated sunburn (redness and inflammation, leading to blistering in severe cases)
- Skin rash (may or may not cause itching)
- Hives (large, itchy red bumps or welts) that last for minutes or hours
- Weeping of the skin, in severe cases
- Peeling skin, in severe cases
What Causes Photo-Sensitivity?
Some medications, including but not limited to:
- Isotretinoin (oral acne medication)
- Some antibiotics (Tetracyclines, Quinolones, Sulfonamides)
- Diuretics (Furosemide and Thiazides)
- Chemotherapy drugs
Some medical conditions:
- Lupus Erythematous. People with lupus may develop red patches, lumps and purple spots on skin exposed to sunlight.
- Polymorphous Light Eruption. This disorder, occurring primarily in young women in the spring and summer, is characterized by an itchy rash.
- Actinic Prurigo. People with this condition may develop red bumps after sun exposure. The bumps can turn into scaly patches.
Certain skin care products:
- Topical retinoids such as tretinoin (aka Retin A), a topical treatment for acne and sun-damaged, aging skin.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs such as glycolic acid). AHAs exfoliate the skin, removing the skin’s epidermis and thereby increasing photo-sensitivity.
- Benzoyl peroxide. This common topical acne treatment is photo-sensitive, so you should always wear sunscreen when using this product.
- Antibacterials (chlorhexidine, hexachlorophene)
- Antifungal drugs
- Chemical sunscreens. Ironically, chemical sunscreens cause photo-sensitivity. Chemical sunscreens contain one or more of these ingredients: benzophenones (benzophenone-3 or oxybenzone), butyl methoxydibenzoylmethane, methoxycinnamate, methylbenzylidene-camphor and aminobenzoic acid.
Some skin rejuvenation procedures:
- Chemical peels. A chemical solution is applied to the skin, causing the epidermis to blister and eventually peel off. After a chemical peel, your skin is temporarily more sensitive to the sun.
- Laser resurfacing. Laser resurfacing uses a laser to send out brief pulses of light that are converted into heat energy. The heat destroys thin layers of skin, including the epidermis.
How To Prevent Photo-Sensitive Reactions
The best ways to protect your skin, whether it’s photo-sensitive or not, are by minimizing exposure to direct sunlight, applying a broad-spectrum physical sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and wearing protective clothing.
SkinPen Micro-Needling Procedure Does Not Cause Photo-Sensitivity
The SkinPen micro-needling procedure can help improve the appearance of sun-damaged skin by assisting in your skin’s natural ability to remodel existing collagen and elastin. The SkinPen micro-needling device causes controlled micro-injuries that stimulate your body’s natural wound healing process. The micro-injuries trigger the release of cytokines and growth factors that lead to remodeling of collagen and elastin.
SkinPen doesn’t damage or remove the epidermis. You should limit your exposure to sunlight for the first 24 hours following your SkinPen micro-needling procedure while the micro-channels are still open and sunscreen shouldn’t be worn. One day after your SkinPen procedure, you can wear a sunscreen such as Skinfuse SHIELD Zinc Oxide 21% and spend time outside without worrying about a photo-sensitive reaction. SHIELD is a broad-spectrum physical sunblock that doesn’t cause photo-sensitivity like chemical sunscreens do.
Because micro-needling doesn’t cause photo-sensitivity, the SkinPen micro-needling procedure can be performed safely in the summer, when people typically spend more time outside in the sun, as well as the rest of the year. Because some other skin rejuvenation procedures, including chemical peels and laser resurfacing, do cause photo-sensitivity, you should avoid them during the summer months unless you stay out of the sun all the time.
The Skinfuse post-micro-needling skin care products were formulated specifically to supply the nutrients your skin needs to optimize the results of your SkinPen micro-needling procedure. Skinfuse products are fragrance-free and lack other ingredients that cause inflammation and hinder the skin rejuvenation process.
Contact your SkinPen provider to learn more about how SkinPen can improve the appearance of aging, sun-damaged skin.