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Effective Monday, July 19, 2021, the following NOH/OMG office locations will no longer provide on-site blood draws: Westlake, Lorain, Olmsted Falls and Dewhurst. Click here for the nearest lab service location. 

Surprising Things That Cause Increased Sun Sensitivity

July 29, 2016

things-that-cause-increased-sun-sensitivity.jpgEveryone knows that wearing sunscreen is important when spending time outdoors, but did you know that there are several factors that may unknowingly be increasing your sensitivity to the sun’s rays? Understanding these risk factors can help you be better prepared when protecting your skin, so take careful note of these five surprising things that cause increased sun sensitivity.

1. Being on, in or near Water

While you’ve probably heard this before, it bears repeating: Your sensitivity to sun increases when on, in or near a body of water due to the double-impact of the sun’s reflection off the surface. This can also be true if you’re sitting on a sandy beach and the sun reflects off the sand.

2. Being in the Mountains

The air in the mountains is thinner, which makes the sun’s rays more intense. This can be even more intensified if you’re skiing on a mountain—the reflection off the snow combined with the thinner air quality can put you at high risk for sunburn.

3. Medications

Certain medications or drugs cause photosensitivity, which produces a chemical change in your skin that makes it more sensitive to sunlight. This can be true of various antifungal drugs, antihistamines, oral contraceptives, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotic and antidepressants. If you aren’t sure whether your medication causes photosensitivity, check with your doctor—or take extra sun protection precautions just to be on the safe side.

4. Foods

Eating certain foods can also cause photosensitivity, so be mindful of your snacking if you plan to spend a lot of time in the sun. Celery, dill, fennel, figs, lime, parsley and wild carrots can all contribute to increased sun sensitivity.

5. Skin Care Products and Perfumes

The products you put on your skin can have a significant impact on your sun sensitivity. Check the ingredients on your lotions and creams to see if they contain alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids or tretinoins. Since these ingredients strip the outer layer of your skin, they can leave you more vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation when they wear off.

This is also true for some perfumes and essential oils, particularly ones that contain scents like bergamot, lavender, rosemary or sandalwood—all of which increase your skin’s sun sensitivity.

Of course, individual sun sensitivity varies, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. While it’s important to know your risk factors, you should always wear a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 anytime you plan to be outdoors for an extended period of time. And remember: Putting on sunscreen isn’t a one-time event. You’ll need to reapply every 90 minutes to two hours.

Since one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, you can never be too careful. Learn more about skin cancer risk with this free download: 10 Surprising Facts About Skin Cancer.