possible side effect from Imuran after tanning???

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Butterfly Kisses
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Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 32
   Posted 7/2/2009 11:40 AM (GMT -6)   
Recently I have gone tanning a few times and about a day or two after I have this incessant itching/needle pin poking feeling all over my legs. It's extremely irritating and benedryl, lotion, aloe and anti-itch creams have not helped at all. I didn't think it was linked to Imuran at first but a friend of mine who is also on Imuran has this same issue after tanning. Has anyone else had this problem? It may not be Imuran related at all but since we both have the same issue and we're both on Imuran it seems to be the most likely culprit.
~Was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2002.
Currently taking Colazal, Imuran, Prednisone, Entocort, Limotil occasionally and I am also on Remicade.

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Date Joined Aug 2008
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   Posted 7/2/2009 11:45 AM (GMT -6)   
     I am on 6MP...and know for a fact you should not go in the sun while on it.  I believe it increases your chances of developing skin cancer.  Be careful!  I love the sun too sad
62 yr old granny. South Jersey
Diagnosed with ulcerative proctitis in 1998 in hospital
Hospitalized (2nd time) in May 2008
Meds as of June 09: Colazal (6 per day), 6MP (50 mgm), Probiotic (upped to 3 per day), Fish oil capsule, calcium, multivitamin, Cort enema nightly, Canasa in morning.  Also taking Benicar and Toprol to control high blood pressure.  Getting old is a b****.

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Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 364
   Posted 7/2/2009 12:54 PM (GMT -6)   
My son did this recently (on Azasan - same as Imuran), but failed to tell me he went to a tanning bed. He was itching incessantly and couldn't sleep. I was freaked out thinking his liver was failing or something. He finally admitted to lying about his age and using a free tanning coupon a friend gave him. Thankfully it only lasted about 2 days.

Lesson learned!!!

I thought about reporting the salon for not checking ID's (son does NOT look 18), but I didn't...

Aveno oatmeal baths helped a bit, as did gold bond medicated lotion (orange bottle).

Mom of Son 17 UC dx 07/02, Prednisone 40mg, Lailda 2 am & 2 pm, Azasan 75mg, Cortafoam (when flaring), folic acid, L. Reuteri, Culturelle, Zyrtec, Iron, Vit/Min

Daughter 10 UC dx 08/07 Prednisone 20mg am & 20mg pm, Colazal 750mg x 4, 6MP 25mg, Iron, Vit/Min., Culturelle

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Date Joined Aug 2007
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   Posted 7/2/2009 1:00 PM (GMT -6)   
There are also warnings about sun exposure while taking azulfadine/sulfasalazine. I get 98 percent of my tanning from a bottle these days. On the bright side, less sun exposure means less harmful aging and risk of skin cancer.
Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis spring 1999. Have been in remission for years with only a few minor blips. Scope on 6/22 showed no inflammation at all.
Maintenance dose sulfasalazine. Probiotics, vitamin D, fiber supplement and fish oil caps. George's aloe vera juice and l-glutamine for gut healing. Mostly grain-free and dairy-free low carb diet.

Butterfly Kisses
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Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 32
   Posted 7/2/2009 2:54 PM (GMT -6)   
I just found out about the increased chance of skin cancer today actually while my friend was trying to research why we have these pin like feelings after tanning. Here is an article someone posted in another forum. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4248356.stm

It seems to me from what I've read that the risk is much greater for people who are taking Imuran after a transplant since their dosage is much higher. Later on in the article it says there is only a theoretical risk for patients who take it for arthritis (I'm assuming my dosage is similar to the arthritis dosage.) I know tanning is bad for you period but I love it. :(

Thanks for all your posts!
~Was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2002.
Currently taking Colazal, Imuran and I am on Remicade.

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Date Joined Feb 2005
Total Posts : 2103
   Posted 7/2/2009 4:07 PM (GMT -6)   
I think most of my UC med bottles say to avoid prolonged sun exposure. I've been tanning the last two weeks for vacation...oops :)
20 year old college student diagnosed in March 2005
Remission since January/April 2006-->THREE YEARS!!!!!
Trying Colazal 3 750mg x2-->Found it to be better than Asacol
25mg Elavil
75mg Effexor XR for GAD

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."
Maya Angelou"

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 460
   Posted 7/2/2009 4:27 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm on 6MP and I seem to be more susceptible to getting rashes from the sun this summer than in previous summers while on it. I don't know what's changed. My dose is the same. Last week I sat in the sun twice and I was all splotchy on my arms and legs. Thankfully mine didn't itch that much but it looked yucky!
Female, Age 38
Diagnosed w/c.diff 7/02 when pregnant w/1st and only child during 2nd trimester(wasn't on antibiotics)
C.diff flare within weeks of delivering baby 1/03, Diagnosed with UC 2/03
Current Meds:
Lialda, 6MP
Ferrex Forte
Acidophillus, Sacchromyces Boulardii, Oil of Oregano

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 23551
   Posted 7/2/2009 8:31 PM (GMT -6)   
I have a wide array of symptoms while being in the sun. I burn real easy or sometimes I don't burn but get blotchy too. I don't think I've ever had the pins and needle feeling nor the itching though.
Moderator for Allergies/Asthma and Co-moderator for UC
~Left sided Uc-'92-Colazal(9 daily),6mp(50-100mgs),Bentyl, Prilosec,Biotin,Forvia,Pro-Bio**Unable to tolerate ALL mesalamines**~Allergies-Singulair, Zyrtec~Secondary Reynauds Syndrome-'04-Norvasc~Sacroiliitis~bulging and herniated discs C5/C6 & C6/C7~3 epidural injections-had 2 series of 3, OA-Celebrex, Tylonel Arthritis and Voltaren Gel
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Butterfly Kisses
Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 32
   Posted 7/3/2009 9:35 AM (GMT -6)   
It's crazy because I've been on Imuran for about 6 years now and my dose has stayed the same but until this year I have never had any problems when I've gone tanning. So I'm really confused about why it's happening now. I don't have any reactions to natural sunlight so it's weird that just the tanning bed would do this.  I've told my dermatologist that I'm on Imuran and he has never once mentioned about the additional risk to sun expose and cancer and neither has my GI. I would have thought that if there was that big of a risk in getting skin cancer that at least one of them would have mentioned it to me. My GI is a great doctor and very concerned with side effects of certain drugs so I'm sure if he was that concerned about my sun exposure he would have told me. I think I want to go see both my derm and GI and ask directly about it and see what they say.
I love being tan so it's hard to not go tanning or lay out in the sun.  sad I might get yelled at for saying this but if we avoided everything that could possibly cause us harm we wouldn't really have a great life...sometimes you just have to make a choice to do it anyway and hope for the best. I think talking to my dermatologist and GI might help me to figure it out what choice to make on this issue though. It won't be the end of the world if I have to avoid the sun but I'd like to not have to  wink
Thanks for all the replies guys!
~Was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2002.
Currently taking Colazal, Imuran and I am on Remicade.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 955
   Posted 7/3/2009 9:48 AM (GMT -6)   
well, if this is the case, i dont know if i want to even start to take imuran.

i love the sun and the beach and being outside and i wont stop. i like to tan.
i swim in the ocean and pools. i canNOT not go in the sun.

and i dont want to hear any 'its bad for you' or 'skin cancer' etc warnings.
im not staying out of the sun. so im not sure what to do now.
i dont want pins n needles and blotchy skin or alligator skin etc...

anyone on imuran that has had no side effects while in the sun or is it one of those side effects that is always there???
steph - 33 - female - gold coast australia - UC since 2000
was in remission until i quit smoking 5 weeks ago  o.O  now im flaring like a solar flare!
waiting for blood test to see if i can start imuran
mesalazine granules 3g x1 a day (much nicer than a million tablets a day)
just finished 3 months of prednisolone (worked) and now back on 40mg a day (ick)
quercertin tablets, tumeric capsules, vitamin d3, enteric coated fish oil
pre-conception vitamins and minerals (cuz we trying to make a baby)
oxycontin for pain every 4 hours.  plastic bags in the loo from the involuntary puking.
i still eat what i want, when i want, if i feel like eating at all ... diet doesn't affect my UC.

Elite Member

Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 10407
   Posted 7/3/2009 10:32 AM (GMT -6)   
Remember that sun exposure is cumulative over your lifetime, and we all have differing tolerances. So it's entirely possible to be on a drug that sensitizes you, have no problems for months or years, and then start having problems. Also, skin cancer can appear with absolutely no previous symptoms.

That said, the dosage people with autoimmune disease take is much lower than what transplant patients take, so the risk is not as high.
Ulcerative colitis forum co-moderator
Moderate to severe left-sided UC diagnosed 2001.
Flared for 5 years, finally in remission with Remicade since March 2006.
Avascular necrosis in both shoulders is my "forever" gift from steroids.
Colazal,  Remicade, Nature's Way Primadophilus Reuteri. 
"My life is an ongoing medical adventure"

Regular Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 32
   Posted 7/3/2009 11:56 AM (GMT -6)   
i'm on azathioprine and i get the same thing if i'm not carefull. if i am in the sun for a while i make sure to put on plenty of after sun when i get home, and drink plenty of water.
i was really itching from the sun a few weeks ago, drank lots of water and felt much better after a few hours

Butterfly Kisses
Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 32
   Posted 7/3/2009 10:29 PM (GMT -6)   
Hmm rob_uk that is interesting about the water because I've been drinking a ton lately and that didn't help.

Kazygirl, I'm not entirely convinced my issues are from the Imuran because as I said before it doesn't happen every time I go tanning and it NEVER happens after being exposed to natural sunlight. I also asked the girl at the tanning salon today if people ever complain about itchy legs and she said yes and it can be due to an allergic reaction to their sanitizer and that our legs (as females) are more sensitive because we shave them and there isn't as many layers of skin on them (since shaving exfoliates) which can cause them to react to things easier than the rest of your body. And just in my opinion a "possible" not "definite" side effect shouldn't stop you from going on a medication that can help your UC...well I mean in some cases I'm sure there would be reason not to take a med b/c of a possible side effect but that's why you talk with your doctor and weigh the pros and cons. I love the sun also but that would never keep me from taking Imuran since it has helped me into remission a few times. And as I said before the risk for IBD patients in getting skin cancer from Imuran is only "theoretical" and that is a quote from a scientist who studied about cancer from Imuran in transplant patients. Since their dosage is much higher it is more likely for them to get cancer than it is for us on our level. Also you don't have to be a sun lover to get skin cancer, I've read plenty of stuff that has said just 1 time in the sun can cause skin cancer and there are people who go a lifetime w/o it who are constantly in the sun. It's all about the individual and their body. It's your choice if you want to risk it. No lecture from me about the bad effects of the sun, I'd be a hypocrit to tell you to stay out of the sun! :P

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 2855
   Posted 7/4/2009 3:18 PM (GMT -6)   
I also love the sun, and sport a dark tan from May until October!

That said...try Neutrogena micro mist. It is very natural looking, I love this product.
I tan very easily, but tanning beds just make my face red. I prefer the color from a spray tan.
49 year old female attorney, diagnosed UC/pancolitis 1985, no surgery but much suffering. Asacol maintenance for 20+ years; used prednisone & Rowasa for flares.  Probiotics (Ultimate Flora, 50 billion), salmon oil (omega-3) when I can remember. 
August 2008 sought care of naturopathic doctor. Food sensitivity test showed wheat/gluten, other intolerances; eliminated wheat/gluten from my diet.
Bad flare in March, used prednisone. Humira denied, started Remicade 4/12 and doing great~ learning what normal is~ wow

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 903
   Posted 7/5/2009 5:08 PM (GMT -6)   
I've never had problems with being on Imuran and the Sun. I even work in Child care. I just wonder if the problem with the meds is the tanning booth. That's ALOT of light in an enclosed area.
27 year old, Married, Female.
Diagnosed with UC since March 2007

Taking Humira since of May 2007 (Currently in remission since May 2007)
Put on Imuran from May 2007 to Jan, 15 2009
Put on Canasa June 25, 2009, off Canasa on June 30th 2009.

Can't take Asacol, Allergic to Remicade, odd reactions to Canasa.

Butterfly Kisses
Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 32
   Posted 7/7/2009 1:41 PM (GMT -6)   
Good news, just got back from the dr and he said my tanning issues have nothing to do with Imuran and are most likely due to the tanning bed...which is what I originally thought. Since my initial post I've been tanning again a few times and haven't had that reaction. I also asked the girl at the tanning salon if people ever complain about itchy legs and she said that people sometimes react to the cleaner they use and the legs generally react most because we (women) shave them which causes them to be more sensitive. I also asked about the risk of skin cancer w/ my dosage of Imuran and my doctor said not even to worry about it. Well obviously I should worry about skin cancer in general but he said there is no reason to worry that I am more likely to get it because I'm on Imuran because my dosage is not high enough to matter. Which is what I thought from what I've read but just wanted to double check.
26 years old...Diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2002

Currently taking: Colazal 750mg 3 pills 3x a day, Imuran 50mg 3 pills 1x a day, Remicade & B12 Injections.

Have taken: Asacol, Lialda, Entocort, Prednisone, Limotil, Nulev, Librax, Canasa & Rowasa.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 63
   Posted 7/7/2009 3:36 PM (GMT -6)   
i don't know why you're subjecting yourself to such easily avoidable risks and complications. have you seen what older people look like after years of tanning? skin turns to cow hide leather.

Elite Member

Date Joined May 2003
Total Posts : 30984
   Posted 7/8/2009 12:29 AM (GMT -6)   
Exactly.....what's the matter with you people??? This is just proof that people never learn even with the best educational material and documented studies out there.

I must add that life after 50 has one not liking the changes that take place, but we still think and remember being 20. It's very humbling. And although I'm not looking my age of nearly 55, I see the damage the sun has done to my skin including the skin cancer I had on my face...and I've not tanned since the '80s.

You'll be sorry, and pleading ignorance with the fact that if your doc wasn't concerned then you shouldn't be is only an excuse for stupidity.

You'll pay....now or later.

*Heather* Status: maintenance Asacol 6 daily + Salofalk enemas every 3rd night
~diagnosed January 1989 UC (proctosigmoiditis)
~UC meds: Asacol (3 @ 2x daily); Salofalk enemas nightly for flares & taper to maintenance 
~Bentylol (dicyclomine) 20mg as needed; Ranitidine (reflux);  Effexor XR 75mg(depression);  Pulmicort/Airomir (asthma) 
~vitamins/minerals/supplementsProbiotics....(RenewLife Ultimate Flora Critical Care + Primadophilus Reuteri). @ bedtime
~various digestive enzymes as needed
~URSO for PSC (or PBC) 500mg X 2 daily (LFTs back to NORMAL!!)
My doc's logic.. "TREAT (FROM)BOTH ENDS"  worth it !!!

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 23551
   Posted 7/8/2009 6:18 AM (GMT -6)   
Everyone does something that other people won't approve of but it is still that person's choice. It's the same old cycle, the older people telling younger people what could happen by them doing certain things but yet the younger people are going to try it or do it anyway. So let's respect their choices eh?

I haven't been much of a tanner myself. I just can't sit still long enough! LOL And maybe that is why I look like I'm in my late 20's instead of almost 40.........who knows. I have a couple of good friends who love to go tanning in beds and they are 3 years younger then me but look alot older.
Moderator for Allergies/Asthma and Co-moderator for UC
~Left sided Uc-'92-Colazal(9 daily),6mp(50-100mgs),Bentyl, Prilosec,Biotin,Forvia,Pro-Bio**Unable to tolerate ALL mesalamines**~Allergies-Singulair, Zyrtec~Secondary Reynauds Syndrome-'04-Norvasc~Sacroiliitis~bulging and herniated discs C5/C6 & C6/C7~Epidural injections (2 series of 3), OA-Celebrex, Tylonel Arthritis and Voltaren Gel
To help Healingwell - click here: DONATE


Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 33
   Posted 7/8/2009 3:03 PM (GMT -6)   
Been away from thread for a while as UC has not been an issue. Imuran eventually did the trick after weaning myself off prednisolone. But now all my joints ache, and my head feels like it's been in a microwave after I spent a couple of hours in the sun over the weekend. Side effects of Imuran I reckon. Can't remember what it's like to be completely normal now, what with one thing or another.
UC first diagnosed 2007.
Asacol 3 tabs twice a day / Predisolone 20mg, 15mg, 10mg 5 mg
Flare-up Jan 2009 used Prednisolone came off it then had major flare up and developed gout.
Colonoscopy March 2009 reveals Severe Pancolitis.
Asacol 4 tabs twice a day / Prednisolone 40mg 2 weeks, 35mg 2 weeks
then start Azathioprine.
June 2009 125mg Azathioprine plus Asacol 4 x 2  UC has cleared up completely but boy do my joints ache

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