Sunburn is quite dangerous for our skin and may end up in a number of complications. Although in many cases people treat sunburns at home, using natural products, these are not always efficient and sometimes can even become harmful. Severe sunburns require professional medical treatment. Most commonly used sunburn medications are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pills such as aspirin and ibuprofen, which help prevent inflammation and pain. When these are not efficient enough, stronger pain-relieving sunburn medications, such as antibiotics and oral contraceptives, may be prescribed.
In some cases there are recommended anti-inflammatory oral steroids, excepting when blistering is present, because steroids may increase the risk of infection. Sunburn medications used for local treatment are moisturizing creams, for example with aloe, which facilitate rapid regeneration of damaged skin. For this purpose may be also used 1% hydrocortisone cream or 1% silver sulfadiazine cream (used cautiously on the skin of the face). Silver sulfadiazine has some antibacterial properties as well. Usually sunburns are associated with dehydration and sodium depletion.
In most of cases oral administration of liquids and salt is sufficient. In severe cases of dehydration intravenous fluids (NaCl, glucose) will be administrated. Many people do not know that some drugs used for different conditions may increase the skin's susceptibility to burning either from the sun or from tanning lamp. These risk increasing sunburn medications are also called photosensitizing agents. Specific drugs can cause sunburn, blistering, hives, rush or other skin reactions. These reactions can be divided into photoallergic and phototoxic.
A photoallergic reaction is when a substance from drug's compounds combines with ultraviolet rays to produce a complex that is perceived by immune system as foreign (antigen). This initiates an allergic reaction. In a phototoxic reaction immune system is not implicated. The skin reacts as poisoned and usually it develops shortly after the drug is taken. Some of medications that may increase skin sensitivity to sunlight are: certain antibiotics and sulfonamides (tetracycline, ciprofloxacin), some skin care products (those with alpha hydroxy acids), acne medications (tretinoin), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used in arthritis, some oral diabetic medicines (glucotrol), hormones, including oral contraceptives, some cancer chemotherapy medications, certain antidepressants and tranquillizers, and many others.
This obviously doesn't mean that taking these medications should be stopped. It is just required some additional protection. If you are taking certain medication ask your health provider or pharmacist about its side effects, including photosensitizing. It is usually indicated in the instructions or on the label. If your medicine has this side effect always wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and try to keep covered as much of skin surface as possible. Beside medications there are some beauty care products, soaps and bleaches, and even sunscreens (containing para-aminobenzoic acids) that may cause photoallergic reactions.