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Partners Improve Skin-Self Exam Success

A new study published in the Archives of Dermatology says teaching people skin self-examination (SSE) with their partner rather than alone significantly improves the likelihood that the person will perform SSE and find problematic lesions.  SSE is an effective strategy to reduce mortality of the disease.  Partners can provide social reinforcement for SSE and can assist in checking locations that are difficult for the patient to see like the scalp, back, ears, and back of legs.  Including partners in SSE training is a simple and cost-effective method of reducing the burden of skin cancer and should be considered a legitimate prevention method.


June K. Robinson.  Partner Assistance Improves Skin Self-Examination for Detecting Melanoma Arch Dermatol. 2007;143:37-41.

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Sunscreen and bug repellent combos are bad news

Currently there are approximately 20 different sunscreen/insect repellent combination products available to consumers.  These products offer consumers the convenience of using one product instead of applying multiple products.  This is cause for concern since bug repellent and sunscreens have different labeling requirements and instructions. 


The ingredients used for sunscreen are monitored by the FDA and insect repellent ingredients are monitored by the EPA.  The EPA and FDA have expressed concern, and are seeking more information, about conflicts arising from the combined use of these ingredients. 


Application location is a concern.  Insect repellent should not be applied directly to the face, near ears, or over cuts.  Consumers are told to use repellent sparingly to avoid over application.  Conversely, sunscreen directions encourage consumers to apply liberally, directly to the face and ears, and over all exposed areas of skin.   


Application frequency is another area that needs to be addressed.  Insect repellents usually indicate reapplication at a minimum of 6 hour intervals whereas it is recommended that sunscreen be reapplied as often as needed after towel drying, swimming, or sweating with a maximum 2 hour interval.  Both of these areas of concern lead to effectiveness issues.  Not applying enough sunscreen in order to avoid overuse of the insect repellent may not protect from sunburn.  Applying too often to avoid sunburn may result in too much insect repellent.  Due to these concerns, the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised consumers to avoid using sunscreen/insect repellant combination products all together.  Both the EPA and FDA are seeking more information, and looking into several other areas of concern including manufacturing, formulation, and labeling conflicts.


For more detailed information visit the US Food and Drug Administrations website at 


Source: EPA. Insect repellent-sunscreen combination products; Request for information and comments. Federal Register 72:35(2007): 7979-83.


AAP Committee on Environmental Health, AAP Follow safety precautions when using DEET on children. AAP News 2003 22: 200399 Retrieved June 25, 2007, from American Academy of Pediatrics Web site:




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Sunscreen Ads Miss the Target: High Risk Groups

Magazine sunscreen advertisers are missing important groups, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion. Researchers reviewed 579 issues of 24 magazines published between the months of May and September from 1997 to 2002. The magazines were selected for review by their top-selling rating and categorized as being aimed at men, women, teens, parents, travelers, or outdoor recreation users.

Reviewers found 783 sun care product advertisements in the magazine selection, 77% of which were found in womens magazines. The researchers note that while more womens magazines were reviewed, there were more than four advertisements for sun care products per issue in womens magazines compared to less than one advertisement per six outdoor recreation issues and less than one advertisement per issue in parent and family magazines.

Only 19% of the advertisements were for sunscreens as stand-alone products while nearly two-thirds of the advertisements were for cosmetics or moisturizers containing SPF.

The reviewers also found that advertisements were often misleading or withheld important health information about the use of their products. Eighty-two percent of ads mentioned SPF 15+, 18% stated protection against UVA and UVB. None of the advertisements mentioned the need for application before sun exposure, reapplication after swimming or vigorous exercise, or the amount needed to achieve adequate coverage for the face and body.

The researchers conclude that most high-risk consumers will have little access to advertising that is often required to alert, prompt and remind consumers to the use of sunscreen if current advertising trends continue.

Article Published: Lee ET, ORiordan D, Swetter SM, et al. Sun Care Advertising in Popular U.S. Magazines. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2006;20(5):349-352

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