It's spring break time, so many people are wondering if they need to stop using acne medicine while on vacation. Some acne medicine does make you more sun sensitive, so it is a good idea to discuss this topic with your dermatologist. Most medicine can be continued during your beach vacation, as long as the proper sun protection measures are taken.
The most commonly used oral acne medications that may cause sun sensitivity are doxycycline and isotretinoin (Accutane.) We recommend checking with your dermatologist regarding whether to continue these medicines while on vacation. For most patients, it is very safe to do so, as long as proper sun protection is used.
Topical acne medications can also cause sun sensitivity. The topical acne medication most likely to make your skin sensitive to the sun is one from the prescription retinoid family. This includes tretinoin, Retin-A Micro, Tazorac, Atralin, Differin, Ziana, and Epiduo. These medications remove excess sebum and dead skin cells from the pores, which is helpful for treating acne, but exposes the newer, healthier skin to the sun's rays. If sunscreen and other sun protective measures are used, most people can safely continue retinoid use during their vacation.
The best way to protect your skin from sun exposure, particularly while using acne medicine, is to avoid direct sun exposure. This means wearing a hat to protect your face and staying in the shade during the midday hours. Even if you avoid direct sun exposure, it is important to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 during your vacation, and reapply every two hours or after going in the water.
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