Using Sunscreen and Repellent Together
When heading outdoors this summer to hike, fish, camp, go boating, or just explore you will want to make sure you are protecting your skin. When outdoors you expose your skin to the harsh sun and those pesky mosquitoes, so making sure you’re protected with the proper sunscreen and repellent is vital. Not only do you want to keep your skin protected to avoid painful and annoying bites and burns, but it is also important to keep yourself protected from the bugs and bites that can cause infectious disease such as Zika Virus, West Nile, Lyme, and Dengue Fever.
There is a lot of information out there on how to choose the best repellent or sunscreen. Check out our How to choose the right repellent article. However, there is a lot unanswered about how to use repellent and sunscreen together. Can you use both together? Do they work together? Is there one that needs to be used first?
We have compiled the following questions and reached out to Dermatologist, Dr. Angela Lamb, who shared with us her tips and recommendation on how to use sunscreen and repellent together
- Is it safe to use both sunscreen and bug spray together?
Yes, it is safe to use sunscreen and bug spray together. The active ingredients in bug spray will not be de-activated by sunscreen, and vice versa
- Which should you apply first?
I would recommend applying sunscreen first and then bug repellent. Bugs are repelled by the smell of the bug spray, so it is best to have repellent layered on top of the sunscreen.
- How often should you apply sunscreen or repellent?
Sunscreen needs to be applied every 90 minutes to 2 hours, more often if you are getting wet or sweating. For insect repellant, it is dependent on the brand and strength of the formula. For example, Natrapel Tick & Insect Repellent with 20% Picaridin provides up to 12 hours of protection, so you should not apply it more than twice per day. The Ben’s 30% DEET formula provides 8 hours of protection, too, so it should not be applied more than two or three times per day.
- Is it safe to use bug repellent when pregnant?
Yes. There are two types of mosquito sprays have been registered with the EPA and are considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women: DEET and Picaridin.
- How can you stop a bug bite from itching?
I recommend using a topical treatment to get instant itch relief, like After Bite or After Bite Kids. These products can be applied easily and contain soothing ingredients and baking soda so they are gentle on skin.
- What can happen to a bug bite if scratched too much?
Scratching bug bites can provide immediately relief, but it also puts you at risk for serious infections and health concerns. If dirt and bacteria from your fingernails get into your bloodstream from broken skin surrounding bug bites, you can potentially put yourself at risk for infections like cellulitis, impetigo, or even Staph infections. However, by treating symptoms like itch and not scratching the affected area, these risks can all be easily avoided.
For more tips on how to protect yourself from bugs and their bites check out Tips for Protecting Your Family against Bug Bites or Preventing and Relieving Skin Irritations This Spring and Summer.