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How to Apply Suntan Lotion & Bug Repellent at the Same Time

Updated July 20, 2017

When you and your family spend time outdoors, it is important to stay protected from both the harmful rays of the sun and insects that may bring maladies such as West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Combination sunscreen and insect repellents are one option; applying the products separately is another.

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  1. Try a combination product. Applying sunscreen and insect repellent at the same time has become much easier with the introduction of products that contain both. Bullfrog Mosquito Coast SPF 30 Sunblock with Insect Repellent, Avon's Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus and Off! Skintastic Insect Repellent with Sunscreen are some all-in-one products that contain sunscreen and insect repellent.

  2. Combination products may contain DEET as an active ingredient; it's particularly effective against mosquito and tick bites, which are responsible for some of the worst insect-borne diseases. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that DEET should not be applied to children under 2 months of age. Parents should look for products containing Picaridin or other DEET-free products. Picaridin has proved to be an effective alternative to DEET without the neurological side effects and skin irritations associated with DEET in rare instances.

  3. Check the labels for ingredients.

  4. Apply a separate sunscreen and insect repellent. The FDA says this is OK to do. Apply the sunscreen first. Any combination of lotions and sprays will provide protection as long as you apply them evenly and thoroughly to exposed areas.

  5. In general, reapply the products every two hours, or more often if you've been swimming or perspiring a lot. But when you're using a combination product with DEET, be prepared to reapply another sunscreen rather than the combination product, the FDA says. Repeated application of DEET may increase the potential for toxic effects. For combination products with non-DEET insect repellent, follow the reapplication directions on the package.

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About the Author

A.C. Bauer is a seasoned adventurist with explorations spanning four continents, including hiking Machu Picchu, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, running the Ice Age Trail and road biking out of her front door. She has written marketing materials for eight years and worked for Red Bull, Disney and Dick's Sporting Goods, and received a master's in recreation and sport science from Ohio University.

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