Sun protection and hay fever treatments – protect your patients this summer

7 June, 2019

The summer season is approaching and although there are many benefits to going outside and enjoying the weather, it’s important to ensure you and your patients are always properly protected against the season’s more negative effects.

Exposure to the sun’s rays can cause long-lasting damage if you are not adequately protected. Sunburn can cause the skin to become red, warm to the touch, sore and itchy. Whilst these symptoms may only last for up to a week, sunburn can increase your chances of serious health problems, such as skin cancer, later in life.

Drugs that can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun

High factor sun cream should be used to protect the skin and to help prevent premature aging. This is especially important for patients on certain medications, as this can increase their skin’s sensitivity to the sun which can cause serious skin reactions. Below is a list of medications that are likely to increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, and anyone on these medications should be using SPF50 sun cream.

  • Antibiotics (4-quinolones [ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin], tetracyclines [doxycycline] and sulfonamides [co-trimoxazole])
  • Antihistamines (diphenhydramine)
  • Malaria medications (quinine, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine)
  • Cancer chemotherapy drugs (5-fluorouracil [5-FU, Efudix])
  • Cardiac drugs (amiodarone, nifedipine, quinidine, diltiazem)
  • Diuretics (furosemide, thiazides, hydrochlorothiazide)
  • Diabetic drugs (sulfonylureas [Glibenclamide])
  • Painkillers (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [naproxen, ketoprofen,ibuprofen, piroxicam])
  • Acne medications (isotretinoin, acitretin)
  • Psychiatric drugs (phenothiazines [chlorpromazine], tricyclic antidepressants [Amitriptyline desipramine and imipramine])

Ashtons can provide a range of sun creams above SPF30. From an infection control perspective, we recommend that you use one bottle labelled per patient rather than sharing between patients on a ward. Sunscreen should be replaced every two years. Always check the expiry date before first use.

Ashtons can provide a full range of sun care products.

Hay fever

Hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is also an issue commonly experienced in the summer, with pollen counts the highest between late March and September.

Symptoms of hay fever include sneezing and coughing; a runny or blocked nose; itchy, red or watery eyes; an itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears; loss of smell; pain around your temples and forehead; headache; earache and feeling tired.

For people with asthma, additional symptoms include having a tight feeling in your chest, being short of breath and wheezing and coughing.

Pollen is characteristically different depending on the plant it is derived from. Different people experience symptoms at different times, depending on which pollen they’re sensitive to. In spring, trees start to pollenate, followed by grasses at the end of spring or start of summer.

How can you prevent hay fever?

The NHS suggests that the best way to prevent hay fever symptoms is to reduce exposure to pollen by staying indoors when the count is high (over 50 grains per cubic metre of air). They also advise taking a shower and changing your clothes after being outdoors to remove the pollen on your body and wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen. If you are still experiencing symptoms after following this advice, the most common treatment is to use oral antihistamines to try and control the allergic reaction, or corticosteroids to deal with the inflammation.

Ashtons can provide a full range of allergy treatments.