Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Stay safe in the sun: Medication and hot weather

portrait image of Professor Claire Anderson, RPS PresidentBy Professor Claire Anderson, RPS President

When the sun is out and temperatures soar, it’s crucial to be mindful of how your medication can interact with the sun and how to ensure your health and well-being during the summer months. Here’s what you need to know:

Medication caution: Don’t stop taking your meds

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that hot weather should not be a reason to stop taking your prescribed medications. Consistency in your treatment plan is vital for managing your health conditions.

Medication and sun sensitivity

Many common prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. The increased sensitivity can lead to various skin issues, including flushing or burning of the skin and potentially increase the risk of skin cancer.

Effects on temperature regulation

Some medicines can affect your body’s ability to maintain a safe temperature, which can be particularly concerning during a heatwave. Pharmacists are there to advise you on the potential side effects of your medication so do speak to them if you have any concerns.

Medicines to be aware of

It’s crucial to be aware of which medications might make you more photosensitive. These can include antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and antidepressants, among others. However, not everyone who takes these will experience adverse reactions.  Pharmacists can help assess whether your current medication routine is suitable for the warmer months or if adjustments are needed.

Correct storage of medication

Storing medications properly during the warmer months is essential to maintain their effectiveness and safety.

  • Store your medication in a cool, dry place. Avoid areas with direct sunlight, as exposure to heat and sunlight can decrease the effectiveness of medications.
  • Keep your medications at room temperature, ideally between 15°C and 25°C. 

What to do to stay safe

To protect yourself from the sun’s effects while taking medication, consider these precautions:

  • Apply sunscreen with a high SPF (at least factor 30), and a 5-star UVA protection, and reapply as needed
  • Wear protective clothing in the sun, including a hat and sunglasses
  • Seek shade or stay indoors during peak sun hours (between 11am and 3pm in the UK)
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day
  • Consult your pharmacist if you have concerns about your medicine’s sun-sensitivity

Ask your pharmacist

If you have any questions or concerns about how your medication may interact with the sun, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pharmacist. They can provide valuable advice and recommendations tailored to your specific situation.

Staying informed and seeking expert advice can make all the difference in having a safe and enjoyable summer.

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