Published: 3 March 2016

Publications

Venlafaxine and Photosensitivity

Prescriber Update 37(1): 8
March 2016

Key messages

Patients taking medicines that can cause photosensitivity reactions should:

  • Cover up with dark and closely-woven clothing
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts and trousers
  • Use topical sunscreen agents with a very high Sun Protection Factor (SPF 50+), that are water resistant and broad spectrum.


The Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) has received four reports of a photosensitivity reaction in association with venlafaxine. In the most recent case, the photosensitivity reaction started after the dose was increased. In all cases, the photosensitivity reaction was reported to have started either in the same month or in the month after the patient started venlafaxine treatment.

Photosensitivity reactions typically appear as unexpected sunburn or a dry or blistering rash on sun-exposed skin, which may or may not be itchy. The most commonly affected areas are the face, neck, arms, backs of hands, lower legs and feet1.

Photosensitivity reactions are an expected uncommon adverse effect of the anti-depressant venlafaxine (estimated to occur at frequencies of ≥0.1% and <1%)2.

The New Zealand Dermatological Society recommends patients taking medicines that can cause photosensitivity reactions1.

  • Cover up with dark and closely-woven clothing.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts and trousers.
  • Use topical sunscreen agents with a very high Sun Protection Factor (SPF 50+), that are water resistant and broad spectrum.

Please continue to report any adverse reactions to venlafaxine, and any other medicines, to CARM. Reports can be submitted on paper or electronically (https://nzphvc.otago.ac.nz/).

References
  1. New Zealand Dermatological Society. Drug-induced photosensitivity. URL: www.dermnetnz.org/reactions/drug-photosensitivity.html (accessed 18 December 2015).
  2. Pfizer. 2015. Efexor-XR Data Sheet. 2 October 2015.  URL: www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/datasheet/e/Efexorxrcap.pdf (accessed 18 December 2015).
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