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Should You Put On Sunscreen or Bug Repellent First?

When using sunscreen and bug spray together, follow these tips.

 Lady putting on bug spray. Proper way to apply bug spray and sunblock at the same time.

What should you do when you need sunscreen and insect repellent at the same time? Is it safe to use them together? Should one be applied before the other? What if the insect repellent contains DEET?

These are all good questions. Perhaps some of the confusion comes from research published almost 20 years ago suggesting that insect repellent with DEET causes sunscreen to work less efficiently (up to 33 percent), according to WebMD. 

A later WebMD report indicated that the U.S. Army did its own study and found that applying sunscreen before insect repellent didn’t seem to decrease effectiveness of either substance.

Related: Get The Facts About Lyme Disease And How To Protect Yourself

Today, Dr. Marc Sanders, Dermatologist at Intermountain Healthcare, says, "Insect repellent can be used with sunscreen; the repellent should be applied after the sunscreen." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention support Dr. Sanders' viewpoint; sunscreen can be used but should be applied first, allowing several minutes to pass before repellent is used.  

Should I reapply sunscreen and repellent after I’ve used both?

Sunscreen should be reapplied every couple of hours (sooner if in water or sweating), whereas insect repellent lasts longer. If this is the case, just reapply the sunscreen at the designated time to ensure your skin is protected from the sun.

Do I need to shower after using insect repellent and sunscreen?

According to Dr. Jennifer Shu, Pediatrician at Children’s Medical Group and contributor for cnn.com, “It is a good idea to wash off the insect repellent once you return indoors.” Shu also suggests that you only use repellent on exposed areas of the skin. The most important thing is that you’re safe while you’re outdoors this summer. Protect yourself by correctly using sunscreen and insect repellent, reapplying when necessary, and washing after use.

Check out other healthy living articles here.

 

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The content presented here is for your information only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.

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Post Author

Bobby Macey

Bobby Macey is a marketer and writer by trade. He’s been published nationally and writes on myriad topics—particularly healthy living.