Department of Health Services Logo

 

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Radiation Home

Environmental Monitoring

Radon

Mammography

Tanning

X-ray

Radioactive Materials 

Incident Response

Forms

Notice to  Employees  (PDF, 32 KB)

Occupational Exposure Record  (PDF, 89 KB)

Contacts

 

Medications and Other Agents That Increase Sensitivity to Light

Many medications and supplements contain ingredients that may cause photosensitivity, which is defined as a chemically induced change in the skin that makes an individual unusually sensitive to light.  An individual who has been photosensitized may develop a rash, sunburn, or other adverse effect from exposure to light of an intensity or duration that would normally not affect that individual.

Reactions to photosensitizing agents involve both photoallergy (allergic reaction of the skin) and phototoxicity (irritation of the skin) after exposure to ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight or artificial lighting (particularly from tanning booths).  This photosensitization of the skin may be caused by creams or ointments applied to the skin, by medications taken orally or by injection, or by the use of prescription inhalers.

In addition to an exaggerated skin burn, itching, scaling, rash, or swelling, exposure to ultraviolet light in combination with certain medications may result in:

  • Skin Cancer

  • Premature skin aging

  • Skin and eye burns

  • Allergic reactions

  • Cataracts (clouding in the eyes)

  • Reduced immunity

  • Blood vessel damage.

The list of photosensitizing medications found on this page was taken from the current literature.  The list is not complete; if you are using a product that is not listed, you should consult your physician or pharmacist for guidance. Before using the list, you should be aware of the following:

  1. NOT all individuals who use or take these medications will experience a photosensitive reaction.  Also, an individual who experiences a photosensitive reaction on one occasion will NOT necessarily experience it again or every time.

    Most entries in this listing do not indicate how often a photosensitive reaction has been reported.  If an entry includes a percentage in the Brand Name column (in bold type and parentheses), this number is the frequency of reaction reported in reference number 2 in the Bibliography.

  2. A medication will NOT cause the same degree of skin reaction in all individuals.

  3. Brand names or products should be considered only as examples; they do NOT represent all names under which the generic product may be sold.

Primary Classes of Medications Responsible for Photosensitizing Reactions

(Examples by Generic Name)

  1. Antihistamines
  2. Coal Tar and Derivatives
  3. Contraceptives, Oral and Estrogens
  4. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
  5. Phenothiazines
  6. Psoralens
  1. Sulfonamides
  2. Sulfonylureas
  3. Thiazide Diuretics
  4. Tetracyclines
  5. Tricyclic Antidepressants

Note: If you are using a medication in any of these classes, you should take precautions even if your particular medication is not listed.

1. Antihistamines   - examples:

Astemizole Azatadine Brompheniramine
Buclizine Carbinoxamine Chlorpheniramine
Clemastine Cyclizine Cyproheptadine
Dexchlorpheniramine Dimenhydrinate Diphenhydramine
Diphenylpyraline Doxylamine Hydroxyzine
Meclizine Methapyrilene Methdilazine
Orphenadrine Pheniramine Promethazine
Pyrilamine Terfenadine Trimeprazine
Tripelennamine Tripolidine
Back to List Back to Top

2. Coal Tar and Derivatives - examples (by brand name):

Alphosyl Aquatar Denorex Medicated Shampoo
DHS Tar Gel Shampoo DOAK Shampoo Estar
Ionil T. Plus LAVATAR Medotar
T/Derm Tar Emollient Tegrin Shampoo T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
Zetar Shampoo
Back to List Back to Top

3. Contraceptives, Oral and Estrogens
   (birth control pills, female sex hormones) - examples:

Estrogens
Chlorotrianisene Diethylstilbestrol Estradiol
Estrogens, conjugated Estrogens, esterified Estopipate

Progestogens
Ethinyl estradiol Medroxyprogesterone Megestrol
Norethindrone Norgestrel Quinestrol
Back to List Back to Top

4. NSAID: Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
(antiarthritics) - examples:

Diclofenac Diflunisal Fenoprofen
Flurbiprofen Ibuprofen Ketoprofen
Meclofenamate Naproxen Phenylbutazone
Piroxicam Sulindac Suprofen
Tolmetin
Back to List Back to Top

5. Phenothiazines (major tranquilizers, anti-emetics) - examples:

Acetophenazine Butaperazine Carphenazine
Chlorpromazine Ethoproprazine Fluphenazine
Mesoridazine Methdilazine Methotrimeprazine
Perphenazine Piperacetazine Prochlororperazine
Promazine Promethazine Propiomazine
Thiethylperazine Thioridazine Trifluoperazine
Triflupromazine Trimeprazine
Back to List Back to Top

6. Psoralens - examples:

Methozsalen Triozsalen
Back to List Back to Top

7. Sulfonamides ("sulfa" drugs, antimicrobials, anti-infectives) - examples:

Acetazolamide Sulfacytine Sulfadiazine
Sulfadoxine Sulfamethizole Sulfamethoxazole
Sulfasalazine Sulfapyrazone Sulfisoxazole
Back to List Back to Top

8. Sulfonylureas (oral anti-diabetics, hypoglycemics) - examples:

Acetohexamide Chlorpropamide Glipizide
Glyburide Tolazamide Tolbutamide
Back to List Back to Top

9. Thiazide Diuretics ("water-pills") - examples:

Bendroflumethiazide Benzthiazide Chlorothiazide
Chlorothalidone Cyclothiazide Hydrochlorothiazide
Hydroflumethiazide Methyclothiazide Ploythiazide
Trichlormethiazide
Back to List Back to Top

10. Tetracyclines (antibiotics, anti-infectives) - examples:

Chlortetracycline Demeclocycline Doxycycline
Methacycline Minocycline Oxytetracycline
Tetracycline
Back to List Back to Top

11. Tricyclic Antidepressants - examples:

Amitriptyline Amoxapine Desipramine
Doxepin Imipramine Nortriptyline
Protyiptyline Trimipramine
Back to List Back to Top

 

Reported Photosensitizing Medications
(alphabetically by generic name)

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, V

Generic Name Brand Name Therapeutic Class
Acetazolamide Diamox Anticonvulsant
Antiglaucoma Diuretic
Amiloride + Hydrochlorothizide Moduretic Antiphyertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Amiodarone Cordarone (15%) Antiarrhythmic
Amitriptyline Elavil Antidepressant (tricyclic)
Amitriptyline Endep Antidepressant (tricyclic)
Amoxapine Asendin (<1%) Antidepressant (tricyclic)
Astemizole Hismanal Antihistamine
Atenolol + Chlorthalidone Tenoretic Beta-adrenergic blocker
Thiazide diuretic
Auranofin Ridaura Antiarthritic
Gold Compound
Azatadine Optimine Antihistamine

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Azatidine + Pseudoephedrine Trinalin Repetabs Antihistamine
Decongestant
Bendroflumethiazide Naturetin Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Benzthiazide Exna Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Bromodiphenhydramine Ambenyl Antihistamine
Brompheniramine Ambenyl Antihistamine
Captopril Capoten Antihypertensive
Captopril + Hydrochlorothiazide Capozide Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Carbamazepine Tegretol Analgesic
Anticonvulsant
Chlorodiazepoxide + Amitriptyline Limbitrol Antidepressant (tricyclic)
Tranquilizer
Chlorothiazide Diuril Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Chlorpheniramine Chlorpheniramine Antihistamine
Chlorpheniramine + D-Pseudoephedrine Deconamine Antihistamine
Decongestant
Chlorpheniramine + Phenylpropanolamine Ru-Tuss II Antihistamine
Decongestant
Chlorpromazine Thorazine Antiemetic
Tranquilizer
Chlorpropamide Diabinese Antidiabetic (oral)
Sulfonylurea
Chlorprothixene Taractan Antiemetic
Tranquilizer
Chlorthalidone Hygroton Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Chlorthalidone Thalitone Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Chlorthalidone + Reserpine Demi-Regroton Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Chlorthalidone + Reserpine Regroton Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Ciprofloxacin Cipro (<1%) Anti-infective
Clemastine Tavist Antihistamine
Clofazime Lamprene (<1%) Antibacterial
Clonidine + Chlorthalidone Combipres Antihypertensive
Thiazide Diuretic
Coal tar Estar Gel Antipsoriatic
Eczema
Coal tar Balnetar Antipsoriatic
Eczema
Contraceptive, oral Estrogen Birth control pill
Female Sex hormone
Cromolyn Intal Inhaler Antiasthmatic
Cyclobenzaprine Periactin Antihistamine
Antiserotonergic
Dacarbazine DTIC-Dome Anti-Hodgkin's disease
Antimetabolite

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Danazol Danocrine Gonadotropin inhibitor
Demeclocycline Demeclocyclin Antibiotic
Desipramine Norpramin Antidepressant (trycyclic)
Desipramine Pertofrane Antidepressant (trycyclic)
Dexchlorpheniramine Polaramine Antihistamine
Diclofenac Voltaren (<1%) NSAID, antiarthritic
Diflunisal Dolobid (1%) NSAID, antiarthritic
Diltiazem Cardizem (<1%) Antianginal
Antihypertensive
Calcium channel blocker
Diphenhydramine Benedryl Antihistamine
Diphenylpyraline Hispril Spansule Antihistamine

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Doxepin Sinequan Antidepressant (trycyclic)
Doxycycline Bivramycin Antibiotic
Doxycycline Hyclate Doryx Antibiotic
Enalapril Vasotec Antihypertensive
Enalapril + Hydrochlorothiazide Vaseretic Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Erythromycin  Ethylsuccinate + Sulfisoxazole Pediazole Antibiotic
Estrogens Contraceptive, oral Female sex hormone
Estrogens Estrogens Female sex hormone
Ethionamide Trecator-SC Anti-infective
Antituberculosis
Etretinate Tegison Antipsoriatic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Floxuridine FUDR Injectable Antimetabolite
Antineoplastic
Flucytosine Ancobon Antifungal
Fluorouracil Adrucil Antineoplastic
Fluorouracil Efudex Antineoplastic
Fluorouracil Fluorouracil Antineoplastic
Fluphenzine Prolixin Antipsychotic
Tranquilizer
Fluphenzine Permitil Antipsychotic
Tranquilizer
Flurbiprofen Ansaid NSAID, antiarthritic
Flutamide Eulexin Antimetastic (prostatic carcinoma)
Furosemide Lasix Antihypertensive
Diuretic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Gentamicin Garamycin Antibiotic
Glipizide Glucotrol Antidiabetic (oral)
Sulfonylurea
Glyburide Diabeta Antidiabetic (oral)
Sulfonylurea
Glyburide Micronase Antidiabetic (oral)
Sulfonylurea
Gold Salts (Compounds) Solganal Antiarthritic
Gold Compound
Gold Sodium Thiomalate Myochrysine Antiarthritic
Gold Compound
Griseofulvin Fulvicin U/F Antibiotic
Antifungal
Griseofulvin Grisactin Ultra Antibiotic
Antifungal
Guanethidine + Hydrochlorothiazide Esimil Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Haloperidol Haldol Antipsychotic
Tranquilizer

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Hexachlorophene Phisohex Antibacterial
Hydralazine + Hydrochlorothiazide Apresazide Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Hydralazine + Hydrochlorothiazide Apresoline-Esidrix Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Hydrochlorothiazide Esidrix Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Hydrochlorothiazide Hydrodiuril Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Hydrochlorothiazide Oretic Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Hydrochlorothiazide + Deserpidine Oreticyl Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Hydrochlorothiazide + Triamterene Dyazide Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Hydrochlorothiazide + Triamterene Maxzide Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Hydroflumethiazide Diucardin Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Hydroflumethiazide Saluron Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Hydroflumethiazide + Reserpine Salutensin/Salutensin-Demi Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Ibuprofen Advil (<1%) NSAID, antiarthritic
Ibuprofen Motrin (<1%) NSAID, antiarthritic
Imipramine Tofranil Antidepressant (tricyclic)
Indapamide Lozol Antihypertensive
Diuretic
Interferon ALFA-2B Intron A (<1%) Antiviral agent
Isocarboxazid Marplan Antidepressant
MAO inhibitor
Isotretinoin Accutane Antiacne
Ketoprofen Orudis (<1%) NSAID, antiarthritic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Labetalol Normodyne Antihypertensive
Beta- and alpha-adrenergic blocker
Labetalol + Hydrochlorothiazide Normozide Beta- and alpha-adrenergic blocker
Thiazide diuretic
Labetalol + Hydrochlorothiazide Trandate HCT Beta- and alpha-adrenergic blocker
Thiazide diuretic
Lisinopril + Hydrochlorothiazide Prinzide Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Lisinopril + Hydrochlorothiazide Zestoretic Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Lovastatin Mevacor

Anticholesterol

Maprotiline Ludiomil Antidepressant
Meperidine + Promethiazine Mepergan Narcotic analgesic
Mesoridazine Serentil Antipsychotic
Tranquilizer
Methacycline Rondomycin Antibiotic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Methazolamide Neptazane Antiglaucoma
Methdilazine Tacaryl Antihistamine
Antipruritic
Methotrexate Folex Antimetabolite
Antipsoriatic
Methotrexate Methotrexate Antimetabolite
Antipsoriatic
Methotrexate Mexate and Mexate-AQ Antimetabolite
Antipsoriatic
Methyclothiazide Aquatensen Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Methyclothiazide Enduron Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Methyclothiazide + Deserpidine Enduronyl Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Methyclothiazide + Reserpine Diutensen-R Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Methyldopa + Hydrochlorothiazide Aldoril Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Methyldopa + Chlorothiazide Aldoclor Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Metolazone Diulo Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Metolazone Mykrox Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Metolazone Zaroxolyn Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Metoprolol + Hyrdochlorothiazide Lopressor HCT Beta-adrenergic blocker
Thiazide diuretic
Minocycline Minocin Antibiotic
Minoxidol Rogaine Hair growth stimulator
Nabilone Cesamet Antiemetic
Antinausea
Nadolol + Bendroflumethiazide Corzide Antihypertensive
Beta-adrenergic blocker
Nalidixic Acid NegGram Antimicrobial

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Naprosyn Anaprox NSAID, Antiarthritic
Naprosyn Naproxen NSAID, Antiarthritic
Nifedipine Adalat Antianginal
Antihypertensive
Calcium channel blocker
Nifedipine Procardia Antianginal
Antihypertensive
Calcium channel blocker
Norfloxacin Noroxin Antibacterial
Nortriptyline Pamelor Antidepressant (tricyclic)
Oxytetracycline Terramycin Antibiotic
Perphenazine Trilafon Antipsychotic
Tranquilizer
Perphenazine + Amitriptyline Etrafon Antidepressant (tricyclic)
Tranquilizer
Perphenazine + Amitriptyline Triavil Antidepressant (tricyclic)
Tranquilizer

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Phenylbutazone Butazolidin NSAID, Antiarthritic
Phenylpropanolamine + Chlorpheniramine Ornade Spansule Antihistamine
Decongestant
Phenylpropanolamine + Pheniramine + Pyrilamine Traminic TR Antihistamine
Decongestant
Phenytoin Dilantin Anticonvulsant
Piroxicam Feldene NSAID, Antiarthritic
Polythiazide Renese Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Prazosin + Polythiazide Minizide Antihypertensive
Thiazide diuretic
Prochlorperazine Compazine Antinausea
Anti-vomiting
Promethazine Thenargan Antihistamine
Propranolol + Hydrochlorothiazide Inderide Beta-adrenergic blocker
Thiazide diuretic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Protriptyline Vivactil Antidepressant (Trycyclic)
Pyrazinamide Pyrazinamide Anti-infective
Antituberculosis
Quinethazone Hydromox Antihypertensive
Diuretic
Quinidine Gluconate Quinaglute Dura-Tabs Antiarrhythmic
Quinidine Sulfate Quindex Extentabe Antiarrhythmic
Quinidine Sulfate Quinora Antiarrhythmic
Quinine Quinamm Antiprotozoal
Rauwolfia serpentina + Bendroflumethizide Rauzide Antihypertensive
Thiazide Diuretic
Reserpine + Chlorothiazide Diupres Antihypertensive
Thiazide Diuretic
Reserpine + Hydrochlorothiazide Hydropres Antihypertensive
Thiazide Diuretic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Reserpine + Hydrochlorothiazide Serpasil-Esidrix Antihypertensive
Thiazide Diuretic
Reserpine + Hydralazine + Hydrochlorothiazide Ser-Ap-Es Antihypertensive
Thiazide Diuretic
Selegiline Eldepryl Anti-Parkinsonism
MAO inhibitor
Spironolactone + Hydrochlorothiazide Aldactazide Antihypertensive
Thiazide Diuretic
Sulfacytine Renoquid Antibiotic
Sulfadoxine + Pyrimethamine Fansidar Antimalarial
Antiprotozoal
Sulfamethizole + Phenazopyridine Thiosulfil-A Urinary analgesic
Antibiotic
Sulfamethoxazole Gantanol Antibiotic
Sulfamethoxazole + Phenazopyridine Azo Gantanol Antibiotic
Urinary analgesic
Sulfapyridine (Generic only) Dermatitis herpetiformis suppresant

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Sulfasalazine Azulfidine Bowel anti-inflammatory
Sulfinpyrazone Anturane Antigout agent
Antihypertensive
Sulfasoxazole Gantrisin Antibiotic
Sulfasoxazole + Phenazopyridine Azo Gantrisin Antibiotic
Urinary analgesic
Sulfone Dapsone Antileprosy
Antimalarial
Sulindac Clinoril (<1%) NSAID, antiarthritic
Terfenadine Seldane Antihistamine
Tetracycline Achromycin Antibiotic
Tetracycline Sumycin Antibiotic
Thioridazine Mellaril Antipsychotic
Tranquilizer

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Thiothixene Navane Antipsychotic
Tranquilizer
Timolol + Hydrochlorothiazide Timolide Beta-adrenergic blocker
Thiazide diuretic
Tolazamide Tolinase Antidiabetic (oral)
Sulfonylurea
Tolbutamide Orinase Antidiabetic (oral)
Sulfonylurea
Tretinoin Retin-A Antiacne (topical)
Triamterene Dyrenium Antihypertensive
Diuretic
Trifluoperazine Stelazine Antipsychotic
Tranquilizer
Triflupromazine Vesprin Antiemetic
Antipsychotic
Trimeprazine Temaril Antipsychotic
Tranquilizer
Trimethoprim Trimpex Antibiotic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

Trimethoprim + Sulfamethoxazole Bactrim Antibiotic
Trimethoprim + Sulfamethoxazole Septra Antibiotic
Trimipramine Surmontil Antidepressant (trycyclic)
Tripelennamine PBZ Antihistamine
Triprolidine Actidil Antihistamine
Triprolidine + Pseudoephedrine Actifed Antihistamine
Decongestant
Vinblastine Velban Antieoplastic

Back to top of Photosensitizing Medications List

Back to Top of Page

 

Other Photosensitizing Agents

Classification or Use

Agents

Antifungals Fentichlor / Jadit / Multifungin
Antimicrobials, antiseptics Bithionol / Chlorhexidine / Hexachlorophene
Artificial sweeteners Calcium cyclamate / Cyclamates / Sodium cyclohexylsulfamate
Coal tar and coal tar derivatives for psoriasis and chronic eczema and in hair shampoos Anthracene / Many phenolic agents / Naphthalene / Phenanthrene / Pitch / Thiophene
Cosmetics and dyes Acridine / Eosin / Erythrocine / Fluorescein / Methylene Blue / Methyl violet / Orange red / Paraphenylenediamine / Rose bengal / Toluidine blue / Trypaflavin / Trypan blue
Deodorant and bacteriostatic agents in soaps Halogenated carbanilides / Halogenated phenols / Halogenated salicylanilides
Fluorescent brightening agent for cellulose, nylon, or wool fibers Blankophor
Melanogenics (furocoumarins) Methoxypsoralens / Petroleum products / Psoralen
Perfumes and toilet articles
(essential oils)
Ethereal oils / Musk Ambrette / Oil of Bergamot / Oil of Cedar / Oil of Citron / Oil of Lavendar / Oil of Lemon / Oil of Lime / Oil of Rosemary / Oil of Sandalwood
Perfumes, flavoring, spices Rutaceae (plant) / Umbelliferae (plant)
Tattoos Cadmium sulfide

Sunscreens with a Reported Photosensitizing Ingredient

6-Acetoxy-2, 4, -dimethyl-m-dioxane (preservative in sunscreens)
Benzophenones (Aramis, Clinique, and others)
Cinnamates (Aramis, Estee Lauder, and others)
Oxybenzone (Eclipse, PreSun, and others)
Paba esters (Eclipse, Block Out, Sea and Ski, and others)
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA-Pabagel, Pabanol, PreSun, and others)

Herbal Supplements

Ginko Biloba
St. John's Wort

SOURCES OF DATA

1. Medications that Increase Sensitivity to Light: A 1990 Listing, prepared by Jerome I. Levine, M.S., R.Ph., 12/90, US Dept of Health and Human Services, FDA 91-8280.

 Last Revised:  July 11, 2013