Essential oils are all the rage these days. People are diffusing them to relax as well as applying topical oils to their skin; some of them can have a photosensitizing effect.   Consequently, people are using them and then going out in the sun and damaging their skin. Patients need education to understand what photosensitizers are and how they might affect them. This applies especially to patients who may be using phototherapy to treat their dermatoses.

Some essential oils, especially citrus oils, contain natural molecules that react with UV light and cause a sensitivity reaction. Essential oil companies often label their products that contain these compounds with a warning to avoid sun/UV light for 12–48 hours after applying.

Also, anyone planning to spend their time as a Summer bartender should know that limes and sunlight don’t mix.  “Margarita burn”, also known as phytophotodermatitis, occurs when a person gets a plant-based photosensitizer on their skin and is subsequently exposed to sunlight or artificial UV.   This can make the skin 10 times more susceptible to sunburn and cause second degree burns.  The photosensitizing effect can last up to 24 hours after the skin is exposed.

Many light therapy patients don’t realize that what they eat, what they apply to their skin or the medicines they take can affect their sensitivity to UV light. Educate your patients on these photosensitizers before they receive phototherapy treatments and prevent them from seeing red!  Here are some additional photosensitizers to keep in mind.

Citrus fruits:

Other foods, herbs, essential oils and supplements:

For more information about photosensitizers or phototherapy contact Daavlin at to info@daavlin.com or call 1-800-322-8546.