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Why can topical medications cause increased skin sensitivity?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Some topical medications can increase skin sensitivity. For example, benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid, often prescribed for treating acne, can cause redness, itching, burning, and stinging. Tretinoins -- prescribed for acne, aging skin changes, or other skin conditions -- could not only cause redness and stinging, but may also increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, making painful sunburns more likely. Talk to your doctor if your skin becomes more sensitive when using a topical medication. In some cases, sensitivity can be minimized or avoided by lowering the dose of the medication, switching to another form (from a gel to a cream, for example), or by making small lifestyle changes, such as switching to a gentler cleanser or avoiding exposing skin to the sun.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.