High blood pressure is a huge issue in this country. The CDC estimates that nearly half of U.S. adults have some degree of hypertension. For those seeking medical attention for the condition, that treatment may make patients more susceptible to sunburns.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is an association between the antihypertensive medication hydrochlorothiazide and sun sensitivity. That heightened sensitivity to UV rays can result in more sunburns. Those sunburns increase the risk of skin cancer.
The risk was enough of a concern to the FDA that they changed the hydrochlorothiazide drug label. As of 2020, the label informs health care professionals and patients of a risk of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology looked at sunburn risk with hydrochlorothiazide as it relates to race, sex, and length of treatment. Findings showed that all 3 are contributing risk factors. At highest risk are non-Hispanic Black people, particularly women, in their first 3 years of hydrochlorothiazide treatment.
As with any medications, it is important to know the side effects. If one of those side effects is increased sun sensitivity, it is more important than ever to follow good sun safety practices.