These Common Medications Actually Become Kinda Harmful When In The Sun

As summer gets closer, that means that warmer weather and more daylight are in the near future. Like many people, you’re probably looking forward to enjoying time outdoors in the sun and heat.

Group of young people having fun in park, sitting on the grass

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Now, you’ve probably been told to apply sunscreen and wear sunglasses when you go outside – especially during the hottest and sunniest time of the day during the summer – but that’s not the only thing that you need to keep in mind when experiencing the high heat. Some medications – and, in fact, some very common ones – could have dangerous side effects when paired with the intense heat of the summer.

According to Healthline, “the reasons why people enjoy the summer, the sun and the heat, are the exact reasons why some medications can have disastrous health complications. The side effects of many prescription medications and even over-the-counter (OTC) medications could obscure the fun in the sun.”

So, before you head outside this summer, don’t forget to grab your hat, water bottle, sunglasses and sunscreen – and check the side effects of your medications. While this list below isn’t comprehensive, it includes some of the most common medications that could affect you negatively when you’re in the summer heat.


antidepressant medicine drugs box 3D illustration

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It’s important that your body is able to regulate your temperature if it’s rising – and this is especially crucial in the summer, when you’re likely to get hotter. However, common antidepressants like Elavil (amitriptyline), as well as the overactive bladder drug, Ditropan (oxybutynin), can affect that.

“Normally the body can open pores to release heat from the body in an effort to cool it,” the Healthline article says. “When taking these medications the body has less ability to sweat and cool down rising core temperatures, leading to increased internal body heat.”

Additionally, a common medication for Parkinson’s, Cogentin (benztropine), affects the body’s nerves that deal with sweating. Thus, since this can raise your body temperature, the effects are worse in high heat.


Diuretic drug for heart, kidneys and cardiovascular system. Packing of pills with inscription "Diuretic Medication" for treatment of cardiovascular diseases near EKG

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Staying hydrated is important year-round, but especially so in summer. During those months, you’re more likely to sweat, which means you need to replenish your body with water more often. The important thing is that you don’t want to get too dehydrated – but that’s easily dealt with by just drinking more water.

However, diuretics like Lasix (furosemide) can have two hydration-related effects – they can make you have to pee more and they can make you less thirsty – which, when combined, can lead to a higher risk of dehydration.

Diuretics can also affect the regulatory systems that help your body control your temperature – and as mentioned in the antidepressants section, it’s especially important to be able to regulate your temperature in the summer.


3D illustration of files with schizophrenia diagnosis and treatment with antipsychotic medication and psychotherapy. Mental health conditions concept.

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It can’t be stressed enough that it’s important that your body is able to regulate your temperature – and that this is an especially key body function in the hot summer months. However, so many categories of drugs affect this ability – and antipsychotics are no different.

In particular, ones like Haldol (haloperidol) and Risperdal (risperidone) can “block the signals to the brain letting it know that the body temperature is rising,” Healthline says. “When this occurs, the body has difficulty sweating and releasing excessive heat.”


pharmaceuticals antibiotics pills medicine /colorful antibacterials pills on white background /capsule pill medicine

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During the summer, you’re likely going to want to (and possibly be able to) spend more time outside. Now, if you spend a lot of time under the sun – and especially if you don’t carefully and thoroughly apply sunscreen – you can get an irritating sunburn.

But some medications can further increase your risk of getting a sunburn, by increasing your skin’s sensitivity. This includes antibiotics like Oracea, Targadox and Acticlate (all doxycyclines). Additionally, fluoroquinolones – like Floxin (ofloxacin) and Levaquin (levofloxacin) – can also be photosensitive and lead to similar sunlight- and sun exposure-related skin rashes.

Acne medications

Woman Applying Medication on Acne

Shutterstock (Thomas Foldes)

As it is, you’re more prone to get acne during the summer because, according to the same Healthline article, “sweat glands begin to open more in warm months.”

So, in an effort to combat it, you take an acne medication. However, you have to be careful – a lot of them contain salicylic acid, which can lead your skin to be more sensitive to sunlight, which can result in a rash.

According to Healthline, “‘One should be especially careful in the sun if taking doxycycline [mentioned above], Cipro [a brand of fluoroquinolone], and Retin-A [which has salicylic acid]’, says Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist in New York City. ‘These medications can potentially be photosensitive and cause burns of blisters or hyperpigmentation from the sun’.”

Over-the-counter medications

Aisle in a CVS pharmacy. CVS is the second largest pharmacy chain in the United States with more than 7,600 stores and ranked as the 13th largest company in the world

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There are also a lot of non-prescription, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that can adversely affect you – again, particularly in the hot summer months. Therefore, you have to be careful with these medications too.

For example, there are several antihistamines where the active ingredient is Benadryl (diphenhydramine), which can decrease sweating. That, in turn and in the summer heat, can lead to increased body temperature.

Additionally, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – like Advil, Caldolor and NeoProfen (all ibuprofens) – can affect the kidneys. This, combined with dehydration (something quite common in the summer), can increase the risk of kidney failure and can lead to heat stroke developing faster.

That all being said, definitely enjoy the warmth and sun of summer – just be smart about it. There are a lot of ways you can take advantage of the best parts of summer, while being safe – and this includes avoiding, if possible, going out during the hottest part of the day, staying well hydrated and taking plenty of breaks in the shade.

Woman drinking water in summer sunlight

Shutterstock (A. and I. Kruk)

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