Medications, Heat & Cold

What you should know about medications, temperature, and sun

To ensure your medications stay safe and effective, follow these tips.

Medications and temperature

Extreme cold or heat can alter the chemical structure of a medicine, rendering it useless and unable to offer its therapeutic or protective benefits. For some medications, this can be extremely serious.

  • Always store medications in the recommended conditions — most medications are best kept at room temperature and in a dry place. 
  • Avoid keeping medications in direct sunlight and do not leave them in the car, where temperatures can exceed recommended storage temperatures.
  • Ensure adequate temperature control for refrigerated items when travelling. Always speak to your pharmacist regarding proper storage of medications before you travel.  
  • Exposure to heat (for example, during sunbathing) can increase the absorption of topical products (for example, creams, ointments, and patches) and the risk of serious side effects. 

Medications and sun

Some medications can cause your skin to become more sensitive to the sun. This is known as photosensitivity, and it can create a reaction that looks like an exaggerated sunburn. 

  • In general, the most common photosensitizing drugs are antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, antidepressants, diuretics, and vitamin A products. Other photosensitizing drugs include acne medications and birth control pills. 
  • While sun protection is always recommended, it is particularly important when you take certain medications.
  • The best way to avoid a reaction is to stay out of the sun during peak hours, which are generally from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
  • If you must go out into the sun while you are taking one of these medications, wear a sunscreen with broad spectrum UV protection and wear loose-fitting, light-coloured protective clothing (such as a long sleeve shirt and wide-brimmed hat). 

Please note:
The information provided on this site is not medical advice and is not intended to replace a consultation with your pharmacist or physician. If you have questions about your medication(s) or are experiencing a health concern, please talk to your pharmacist.

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