Monday 28 Jan 2019
Susan Long â€“ Maggie's
If youâ€™re having, or have had cancer treatment, you may be advised to avoid direct sunlight on skin.
Find out more about the cancer treatments which can cause sun sensitivity. Weâ€™ll provide tips to manage being in the sun whilst protecting your skin.
If youâ€™re having, or have had cancer treatment, you may be advised to avoid direct sunlight on skin. This can feel disappointing, when sunshine for many of us gives a lift in mood, and helps the body make vitamin D.
Sometimes people can develop photosensitivity, which is when your skin becomes more sensitive to the sunâ€™s ultraviolet rays. It can be brought on by certain medications and medical conditions.
Treatments that can cause photosensitivity include chemotherapy, radiotherapy, certain antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and some anti-sickness medications.
Everyoneâ€™s response to sunlight after treatment is different, but even if you normally tolerate sunlight well, you may be at risk now.
Your healthcare team should advise you which of your treatments may cause UV sensitivity, and how to take care of your skin.
The effects of the chemotherapy can make you sensitive to sunlight during your treatment and for a couple of months after your treatment has finished.
Radiotherapy can cause skin sensitivity, so protect any radiated areas in particular. This may be the case for the first few years post radiotherapy treatment. Occasionally your skin sensitivity may be permanent. It's advisable to cover the area with loose clothing, or wear a high factor sunscreen.
Anyone who has developed lymphoedema following cancer treatment will have been advised by their clinical team to avoid getting sunburnt or insect bites on the affected limb. It can cause inflammation (swelling) and infection. Find out more in our lymphoedema section
Whilst you have to be more careful in sunshine with cancer treatments, it doesn't mean you have to avoid it altogether. Simple precautions can help you enjoy sunny days whilst protecting your skin:
If you would like more help, support and information about the treatments which may cause photosensitivity, you can drop into your local ²Ñ²¹²µ²µ¾±±ðâ€™s at any time, or read up information here in our blogs and useful links.
If you get sunburnt or develop blisters or a rash from the sun, get in touch with your GP and cancer care team. You may need antibiotics to protect you from developing an infection.
Last review: Jan 2022 | Next review: Sep 2023
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