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October 07, 2016

How sun exposure affects acne

Many people feel that their acne improves during the summer. You may notice some temporary improvement after exposure to the sun and your tan may give you a healthy glow that can camouflage flaws. But beware! These changes are often short-lived!

The truth is that the sun’s rays have a largely negative effect on acne-prone skin. Sun exposure stimulates the secretion of sebum, the oily substance involved in the process leading up to acne. The sun’s rays also cause dryness and thickening of the skin that are part of the problem.

Obviously, this isn’t the only damage that can be caused by the sun’s rays. Don’t forget about the infamous age spots, premature skin aging and increased risk of skin cancer. There’s no doubt, if you don’t protect your skin, the sun can become your greatest foe to beautiful, healthy skin.

Sun protection products and acne

Another important fact: many medications used for treating acne, whether topical or oral, have a photosensitizing effect. This means they make the skin more sensitive to UV rays. Yet another good reason to be well protected from the sun!

For example, doxycycline and minocycline are oral antibiotics sometimes prescribed for the treatment of acne. Isotretinoin (better known by its brand name, ACCUTANETM) is an oral drug used in cases of severe acne and it’s one of the medications that presents the greatest risk of photosensitivity. Ask your pharmacist if the medication you are taking is likely to make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Sunscreen is a must!

If you have acne, it’s imperative that you protect your skin by using high-quality, effective sunscreen before exposure to the sun. Choose sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 30, ideally formulated in an oil-free base and labelled “non-comedogenic.” A poor choice of products can make your acne worse. Your family pharmacist or your beauty consultant can help you select the right product

You can cleanse your skin or not before applying sunscreen. If you need to use a medicated acne product, first clean your face, rinse well, then gently pat it dry. Follow with the medicated product, wait a few minutes to allow it to penetrate your skin and apply your sunscreen.

A few more useful tips:

  • Whenever possible, stay in the shade.
  • Limit your outdoor activities between 11 am and 4 pm, when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
  • Wear a cap or a wide-brimmed hat to protect the skin on your face.
  • Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours and after swimming or after sweating extensively.
  • Avoid tanning beds at all costs.

Pharmacy services

Do you have questions about acne? Talk to your family pharmacists. They can help you achieve healthy, radiant skin. They can prescribe* medications for certain minor health problems, including acne, when the treatment and diagnosis are already known. A consultation will also be required so the pharmacist can make sure you meet the prescribing criteria.

To avail yourself of this service, you may need to book an appointment with your family pharmacist. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more details. Some Uniprix-affiliated pharmacies also offer an online appointment booking service. To locate the store nearest you providing this service, click here

*Certain conditions must be respected. Fees may apply. Ask a member of the pharmacy team for more information. Pharmacists alone are responsible for the practice of pharmacy. They offer related services only on behalf of pharmacist-owners