Psychotropic Medications and Heat, Light and Sun Sensitivity

Heat, sun and light sensitivity occur in varying degrees through medication side effects when taking psychotropic medications. A child may be become sunburned easily (extremely easily) and skin may itch when exposed to sunlight. Your child may sleep a lot when the days are warmer. Bodies may become overheated easily. Sensitivity to not just the sun but to lights also can affect eyes and eyesight. If possible, air conditioning needs to be available or alternative ways to cooling the body need to be used.

Sunscreen in today’s society is considered a necessity, but when psychotropic medications are involved just using sunscreen is often not enough. A higher SPF in sun lotion (as well as a good grade of lotion) may be a necessity. Other things that can help prevent sunburn are long sleeves and long pants instead of shorts and tank tops but can increase other problems such as overheating. Long sleeves and long pants/clothing should be 100%cotton which ventilates skin well. Many clothing blends don’t breathe well and hold onto body heat. In summer have articles of clothing should be very lightweight. A vented baseball cap and sunglasses may also help.

Children need to be monitored closely (and be taught to monitor themselves) for heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke during warmer months. Many psychotropic medications seem to make children who take them not only sun sensitive, but heat sensitive. Temperatures that make other children want and enjoy being outside, can cause lethargy and increased irritability due to psychotropic medication side effects.

Many psychotropic medications make eyes sensitive to sun and light and pupils may stay large almost constantly. Lights glaring off water and snow are then painful. Favorite activities like swimming may not be enjoyable. Florescent lights that are not full spectrum can become a problem. Sunglasses can help with cutting down the light that can get to and into the eyes, as can baseball caps and other hats or visors with brims. Blue and or light colored eye may be much more sensitive to sun and light.

Room temperatures comfortable to you, may not be comfortable to your child.

The combination of room temperature and florescent lights (school, the grocery store, church) may be a jarring problematic combination for a child with a disability that is exacerbated by sensory problems. In other countries florescent lights have been banned in schools and treatment centers. Regular lights which are bright, may also cause problems, especially if they are reflecting off a bright surface. You may want to try to evaluate dinner time problems to see if lights are causing a problem. Many kitchen and dining room tables have a bright light over them and the table itself is shiny as well.

A child may not be able to figure out or tell you what is wrong, especially before he/she gets so wound up and upset that full-blown problems have erupted. Cycles start somewhere. The closer parents can get to finding what the problem is and when it is first starts to occur, will make everyone’s life smoother. You may want to evaluate your need to see the color of a child’s eyes, versus their comfort level behind the baseball hat.

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