Issues in contemporary drug delivery: Part VIII: Sunscreens as therapeutic agents

E. M. DeSimone, U. V. Banakar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: To provide an overview of the selection criteria for and proper use of sunscreen products. The effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation on the skin are also discussed. Data Sources: References were selected from published bibliographies of books and articles dealing with UV radiation and sunscreen agents, manufacturers' product information, and topical searches in MEDLINE computerized database (English language, through 1991). Study Selection: Studies that investigated the short- and long-term effects of UV radiation (UVA and UVB) on human skin were reviewed. Equal weight was given to information published in authoritative textbooks by prominent photobiologists and dermatologists. Data relating to human skin were selected in preference to animal data, and data involving ingredients approved for use in the US were used in preference to those of products approved in foreign countries. Data Synthesis: The literature describing the effects of both UVA and UVB on human skin is substantial. However, there is considerably less information on UVA in terms of how its effects impact the formulation and use of commercially produced sunscreen products. Information regarding the proper use of currently available sunscreen products and the appropriate patient counseling information for pharmacists is both considerable and consistent. Conclusions: In recent years, the concerns about UV radiation have shifted from the short-term hazards of sunburn to the long-term hazards of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Available data suggest that a life- long approach to minimizing exposure to UV radiation including the use of sunscreens with a minimum sun protection factor of 15 will reduce overall morbidity and mortality. Authorities in the field are calling for the continuing development of commercial sunscreen products that provide a broad spectrum of protection against both UVA and UVB and their proper use by the public.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pharmacy Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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