What to do if sertraline causes a burning skin sensation? (3 factors)

If sertraline is causing a burning skin sensation, it’s recommended to seek medical attention. This is not a commonly reported side effect of sertraline and could be a sign of an allergic reaction – which is why it is important to report it to your provider to ensure whether sertraline is the right choice of medication for you. (1,2)

Although allergic reactions to sertraline are rare, some people could experience side effects like redness of skin, lesions, burning sensation, etc. These symptoms should be taken care of right away to prevent further damage or any serious health complications. 

Some people may experience a mild burning sensation not related to a potential allergic reaction; however, the incidence is too low to consider it a random side effect. 

It is important to note that people are different and can have different factors affecting their health, including other prescription medications. So, you should also inform your doctor about any other medication or supplement you’re currently taking.

What is the link between sertraline and burning skin sensations?

There is limited research to establish a proper link between sertraline and a burning skin sensation. However, it is not listed as a common side effect. 

Some research studies have indicated that sertraline can cause cutaneous side effects, ranging from mild to severe, which can manifest as symptoms like itching, bruising, burning sensation, hives, etc (3). So, sertraline can cause these side effects, especially in susceptible individuals. 

Some case studies have also reported burning sensations while on sertraline. For instance, a 77-year-old man experienced a severe reaction after taking sertraline and reported an intense burning sensation among other cutaneous reactions (4). 

However, these cases are not frequently reported and are more commonly associated with concomitant use of other medications with sertraline. Nevertheless, a severe burning sensation could be an indication of something serious.

Can burning skin sensation be something dangerous?

In rare cases, the severe burning sensation can be linked to a rare sertraline-induced complication known as serotonin syndrome. This condition can cause severe sweating, high fever with chills, burning skin sensations, and psychological complications such as seizures and hallucinations (5). 

Serotonin syndrome is not common and is rarely linked to standard doses of sertraline (5). However, it could be an interaction between two or more serotonergic drugs or drugs that can affect your nervous system, such as recreational drugs. 

So, if your burning sensation is severe and is paired with other disturbing symptoms, conditions like serotonin syndrome should be ruled out just to be safe. 

Furthermore, it is important to make sure that you’re not taking any other medication with sertraline that can potentially lead to serotonin syndrome or any other interaction that can intensify the side effects caused by either of the medications. 

Some medications that can cause serotonin syndrome when taken with sertraline include:

Opioids Morphine, codeine, tramadolPain relief is often used for moderate to severe pain.
TriptansSumatriptanMigraine relief, specifically for acute migraine attacks.
Mood StabilizersLithiumTreatment of bipolar disorder to stabilise mood.
Herbal SupplementsSt. John’s WortUsed for mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
OTC cough suppressants DextromethorphanRelieves cough symptoms, often found in over-the-counter cough medicines.
AnxiolyticBuspironeUsed to treat anxiety disorders and associated symptoms.

Burning skin sensations with sertraline

In my experience as a pharmacist, I have not seen cases of sertraline-induced burning skin sensations. It can, however, cause a burning mouth sensation in some cases, along with dry mouth and an altered sense of taste; however, burning sensations on the skin are not commonly reported. 

However, we are all unique, and medications like sertraline can affect us differently. What works for you may not work for me, and we may experience different side effects. So, it’s best to keep a close eye on your side effects and report them to your doctor to ensure safe and effective treatment.


  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547689
  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/019839s74s86s87_20990s35s44s45lbl.pdf
  1. Krasowska D, Szymanek M, Schwartz RA, Myśliński W. Cutaneous effects of the most commonly used antidepressant medication, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 May;56(5):848-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2006.10.020. Epub 2006 Dec 4. PMID: 17147971. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17147971/
  1. Herstowska M, Komorowska O, Cubała WJ, Jakuszkowiak-Wojten K, Gałuszko-Węgielnik M, Landowski J. Severe skin complications in patients treated with antidepressants: a literature review. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2014 May;31(2):92-7. doi: 10.5114/pdia.2014.40930. Epub 2014 Apr 22. PMID: 25097474; PMCID: PMC4112250. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4112250/#CIT0027 
  1. Simon LV, Keenaghan M. Serotonin Syndrome. 2023 Jul 17. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 29493999. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482377

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