Photosensitizing medications in hair treatment

One of the major questions from our patients is about laser sessions, whether for hair removal, acne, tattoo removal, etc., and medication. Some medications can have photosensitizing properties. In hair treatment, two medications with this contraindication are minoxidil and cetirizine.

It is important to ensure all safety measures before undergoing any type of laser session. Choosing clinics with the highest quality standards will ensure that the procedure we are about to undergo achieves the best results. Knowing if a clinic meets all health standards is a good guide to determining if we are in good hands.

It is crucial to inform the professionals attending to us about all the medications we are taking, as well as any medical conditions we may have. The medical history should be as detailed as possible to ensure all guarantees in the procedure.

Photosensitizing medications in hair treatment

Among the characteristics of certain medications is photosensitivity. The Spanish Society of Primary Care Pharmacists (SEFAP) defines it as “a skin reaction produced by the interaction between a photosensitizing chemical compound (in this case, the drug: whether topical or systemic) and exposure to electromagnetic radiation spectrum ranging from visible light to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.”

In the case of photosensitizing medications in hair treatment, as mentioned, there are two that may have this contraindication: minoxidil and cetirizine. With both medications, caution should be exercised regarding sun exposure, and particularly when undergoing laser treatments. The professional administering the treatment may require discontinuation of the medication for a few days before the procedure.


What happens if I haven’t discontinued the treatment?

According to the Spanish Society of Primary Care Pharmacists (SEFAP), it is best to “interrupt the treatment or lower the dose.” If this hasn’t been done and “mild erythematous-inflammatory conditions occur, they can be relieved with the application of hydrating lotions and cold moist compresses. For more intense cases, topical corticosteroids or oral NSAIDs may be necessary.”

Is photosensitizing the same as photosensitive?

No, photosensitizing refers to the damage that UV rays can cause to us. Photosensitive, on the other hand, refers to the preservation of the medication, as if it’s not protected from light, it can be altered.

What are the photosensitizing medications in hair treatment?

Currently, there are two medications commonly used in the preparation and improvement of hair transplantation. These are minoxidil and cetirizine. In both cases, they are usually prescribed along with other medications. It will be important to stop taking them in the days leading up to laser sessions.

Dr. Espinosa Custodio works at the Instituto Médico del Prado, his hair clinic in Madrid or in Mexico City. If you wish to schedule an appointment, you can contact us at the phone number +34 912 468 664, on WhatsApp +34 627 396 322, or through the contact page on our website. If you are contacting us from Mexico, our phone number is +52 55 4590 9909.

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