Certain rheumatoid arthritis medications may cause photosensitivity, or sensitivity to sun exposure. We review them and offer tips for your patients.
With summer in full swing, your patients are likely spending ample time outdoors. Be sure to remind them that if they take certain medications for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), they may be more susceptible to sunburns and skin rashes.
Photosensitivity and RA Medications
Photosensitivity, or extreme sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun, is a side effect of some RA medications. Patients who take these drugs may develop skin rashes and burns even with limited sun exposure.1
There are 2 types of photosensitive reactions your patients might experience: phototoxic and photoallergic. In phototoxic reactions, the drug becomes activated by UV rays from the sun. A skin rash reminiscent of a sunburn will appear typically within 24 hours. In photoallergic reactions, UV exposure alters the structure of the drug so that the immune system views it as an antigen, thereby activating an allergic response.