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Sunscreen application by photosensitive patients is inadequate for protection

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Brian Diffey


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Photosensitive patients often comment that sunscreen products seem of little benefit. We used fluorescence spectroscopy to assess quantitatively their sunscreen application technique. A dose-response relationship for sunscreen skin surface thickness and fluorescence intensity was determined for an intrinsically fluorescent sunscreen, Neutrogena(R) sun protection factor (SPF) 15. Ten women with long-standing photosensitivity conditions were asked to apply this sunscreen in the manner they would normally on a bright sunny day. Fluorescence measurements were taken from all unclothed body areas, comprising 17 sites of the head, neck, upper and lower limbs. Geometric regression analysis of the dose-response data showed a high level of correlation (r = 0.99) between sunscreen thickness and fluorescence intensity, allowing fluorescence measurements to be converted to an equivalent sunscreen thickness. The overall median sunscreen thickness was 0.5 mg/cm(2), with median thicknesses of individual sites ranging from 0 to 1.2 mg/cm(2). The most frequently missed sites were the posterior neck, lateral neck, temples and ears, all of which had median thicknesses of 0 mg/cm(2). Hence, photosensitive patients fail to apply sunscreen in some prominently exposed sites, and use average thicknesses far less than the manufacturers' recommendation (2 mg/cm(2)). The level of protection is much lower than anticipated from the stated SPF of the product.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Azurdia RM, Pagliaro JA, Diffey BL, Rhodes LE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Dermatology

Year: 1999

Volume: 140

Issue: 2

Pages: 255-258

ISSN (print): 0007-0963

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2133

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.1999.02658.x


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