How avoiding sunburns and mosquitoes
When spending time outside in warm weather we may need using both insect repellents and sunscreens products. Repellents and sunscreens can be used together but there are some general tips to consider.
Many of the big outdoor products companies sell combination insect repellent/sunscreen products. These lotions may be suitable for shorter periods spent outside but have some important minus if you plan to spend more than a couple of hours in the sun.
Sunscreens should be applied generously and frequently: two tablespoons of sunscreen should be applied directly to the entire body, including a nickel sized dollop to the face, at least every two hours. Insect repellents (frequently containing DEET), on the contrary, should be applied no more than every two to six hours, depending on the concentration, and you should avoid applying it to the face. It is difficult to reconcile the opposing requirements of combination formulations.
Therefore, it’s safe to use these combination products once, but it’s better to reapply with a sunscreen-only product so as not to increase your exposure to DEET. DEET (also listed on labels as N, N-Diethyl-m-toluamide or N, N-Diethyl-3-Methyl benzamide) is highly effective at repelling mosquitoes, but is also an eye irritant and can cause blisters and rashes on some users. More rarely, DEET has been associated with lethargy, confusion, disorientation, and mood swings. These concerns have resulted in Canada’s banning DEET in concentrations higher than 30 percent. In any case, it’s wise to minimize exposure by selecting a product containing 10 percent or less.
Also, insect repellents can reduce a sunscreen’s sun protection factor, or SPF, by 33 percent and therefore it’s better avoid reapplying more than needed.
Skincancer.org experts suggest that, although a combination sunscreen/insect repellent sounds appealing, it is better to use two different products rather than a single combination formulation.
First, liberally applying to all exposed areas a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation with an SPF of 15-30 or higher, and reapply every two hours. Then an insect repellent should be applied and reapplied following the manufacturer’s instructions.
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