Weird Things That Can Happen To Your Skin After Taking Ibuprofen

Most, if not all, medications we take have side effects. Of course, we don't often think about these when we're nursing a headache or trying to get rid of a fever. Especially when popping a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug like ibuprofen, for instance, can bring almost instant relief when it comes to soothing inflammation and pain relief. 

But it turns out that some weird things can happen to your skin when you take this popular NSAID. For starters, ibuprofen has both common and rare side effects that manifest in your skin. The more common drug reactions include itching or pale skin and rashes with flat or raised lesions. Blistering, peeling, or loosening of skin, red skin and red spots on the skin, skin lesions that are purple in the middle, and yellow skin are the more rare side effects of ibuprofen. In fact, yellow skin (and eyes) could indicate liver damage; you should watch out for other symptoms like persistent nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, dark-hued urine, and stomach pain, and get immediate medical assistance. 

It is also possible that you're allergic to ibuprofen. An allergic reaction to the drug will show up on your skin as hives, puffiness and swelling around your eyes, and changes in your skin color. Other symptoms of an allergy include an irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, wheezing, fainting, and, in rare cases, even anaphylaxis. It is important to get medical attention right away if this happens. 

Ibuprofen could cause phototoxicity too

Phototoxicity, a condition in which the skin becomes extremely sensitive to sunlight, is one of the other weird side effects of taking ibuprofen. It might not happen to everyone, and sometimes, it may even just happen once, but it can manifest in sunburn, blisters, and other skin issues. Phototoxicity can happen with antibiotics, anti-fungal medications, and heart medication too. Topical medicines and essential oils can be culprits as well. In fact, the gel, mousse, or spray version of ibuprofen can make your skin sensitive to sunlight too. 

Medication-related phototoxicity occurs when your skin absorbs UVA rays and causes cell damage. Some people might experience this side effect every time they take ibuprofen and expose their skin to sunlight, and it could also persist for years after stopping the pill. Those with other skin problems, like eczema, may find that their skin troubles worsen with medication-related phototoxicity. 

Dealing with ibuprofen-related phototoxicity means, first and foremost, stopping the drug. Investing in a good sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays can also help. Look for ingredients like avobenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. Topical corticosteroids and cool compresses can also help soothe your skin irritation. Corticosteroids work by calming inflammation. See your doctor, who will recommend the proper course of action for when medications cause phototoxicity. Finding out things you might not know about ibuprofen can make you nervous about consuming this NSAID. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Taking ibuprofen: Things to consider

If you have existing skin conditions like eczema, have sensitive skin, or are generally worried about what ibuprofen can do to your skin, discuss these concerns with your healthcare provider. Not everyone will experience the side effects that come with taking the drug, so going over the possibilities with a professional can help shed light on some of your concerns. 

Overconsumption of ibuprofen is linked with digestive problems, ulcers, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Liver and kidney damage are also associated with long-term ibuprofen use. The NSAID can also react with other medications you're on (like blood thinners, heart medication, and seizure drugs). People with sensitive gastrointestinal systems, heart issues, and kidney problems, as well as those who are pregnant, should be mindful of ibuprofen use too. 

Following instructions from your doctor, using the medication only as you need it, and seeking alternatives to pain relief when you can are some things you can do to mitigate the side effects of this medication. Getting to the root of why you're relying on pain relief drugs can also help. "It should never get to the point of everyday ibuprofen use. Issues like ongoing abdominal pain, chronic headaches and really serious aching of your muscles don't just go away on their own," explained internal medicine specialist Dr. Janet Morgan (via Cleveland Clinic). Sometimes, medications that have unusual side effects can't be avoided; sometimes, they can. Seek professional advice about treating underlying health issues with minimal negative consequences to your overall health.