What Causes Your Skin to Become Photosensitive After IPL?

The skin forms a remarkably strong, protective barrier that regulates our internal temperature, prevents damage, and stops harmful bacteria from entering the body. However, despite how tough it is, this organ is susceptible to changes in the environment and damage from external elements. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin (a highly reactive skin type that is more likely to develop inflammation and negative reactions to products), you can experience damage from the sun. UV radiation from sunlight is one of the main aggressors that takes a toll on the health and appearance of the skin. Although intense pulsed light from our Philadelphia-area practice is a powerful tool for reducing redness, broken capillaries, wrinkles, and sunspots caused by cumulative sun exposure, plastic surgeons caution patients against direct sun exposure after their treatment.

Your skin is much more sensitive to sunlight and more prone to sunburn, blistering, and hyperpigmentation after you’ve had an intense pulsed light (IPL) session. Not to mention, sun exposure can cause additional damage and could reverse all of the time, expense, and effort that went into evening out your complexion with IPL. When you do decide to expose your skin to sunlight again, routinely apply SPF 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen and take all of the usual steps to avoid sun damage. These include wearing sunglasses and large-brimmed hats, covering up, and avoiding going outside during the hours when the sun’s rays are strongest.

Patients should also watch out for topical products, foods, and medications that have the side effect of increasing photosensitivity, which essentially is decreased tolerance to sunlight or other forms of light that elevates the risk of burns or rashes. Certain chemicals contained in these products or medicines interact with UV radiation. Let your physician know about what you’re using before IPL. Some of the things that increase photosensitivity include:

  • Certain types of antibiotics, like tetracyclines and quinolones
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Certain antifungal drugs
  • Antihistamines
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Oral diabetes medications
  • Diuretics
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • St. John’s wort
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids
  • Beta-hydroxy acids
  • Tretinoins
  • Perfumes or oils containing lavender, bitter orange, musk, or lemon verbena
  • Foods such as celery, dill, lime, and parsley

Searching for more info on laser or light-based procedures like intense pulsed light (IPL)? Dr. Timothy Greco’s team can help you find the best solution for enhancing your skin. Give us a call at (610) 664-8830, or fill out a contact form to request a consultation.