Medications & sun a risky mix

May 22, 2009 3:30:10 PM PDT
A new survey out today shows 31-percent of Americans say they NEVER wear sunscreen, even though too much sun can lead to sunburn, wrinkles and skin cancer.

So as we head into summer, dermatologists are urging everyone to protect themselves.

It is especially important for people taking certain medications.

After Eileen Borden of Newtown, Pa., got sick 14 years ago, she feared she wouldn't live to meet her grandchildren.

But a double-lung transplant saved her life.

"I'm just very fortunate to be here," she says.

Now to help her stay healthy, Eileen checks her skin, and visits her dermatologist every three months. That's because the anti-rejection medications she takes puts her at a greater risk for skin cancer.

Dr. Christopher Miller says patients who take certain drugs to suppress their immune system for arthritis or psoriasis also have a heightened risk.

And some common drug, such as antibiotics and anti-depressants can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

"Anything that theoretically increases your risk for sunburn, increases your risk for skin cancer," says Dr. Miller.

So Dr. Miller reminds everyone to enjoy the sun but limit your exposure and be protected.

Apply sunblock often, wear a hat, long sleeves and pants whenever possible.

Dr. Miller says, "The backs of the legs are the most common place for women to get melanoma."

Also, check your skin for unusual changes.

"Look for pink spots that don't go away or look for dark spots that don't go away," says Dr. Miller.

Eileen says, "If I see something different I'll watch it and if it doesn't look right, I'll call and make an appointment."

For more information on medications that increase sun sensitivity, click here.

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