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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2007 Sep 1;223(2):187-94. Epub 2007 Jun 4.

Percutaneous characterization of the insect repellent DEET and the sunscreen oxybenzone from topical skin application.

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Faculty of Pharmacy, Department of Animal Science, University of Manitoba, 50 Sifton Road, Winnipeg, MB, Canada R3T 2N2.


The synergistic percutaneous enhancement between insect repellent DEET and sunscreen oxybenzone has been proven in our laboratory using a series of in vitro diffusion studies. In this study, we carried out an in vivo study to characterize skin permeation profiles from topical skin application of three commercially available repellent and sunscreen preparations. The correlation between skin disposition and drug metabolism was attempted by using data collected. Both DEET and oxybenzone permeated across the skin after the application and achieved substantial systemic absorption. Combined use of DEET and oxybenzone significantly enhanced the percutaneous penetration percentages (ranging 36-108%) due to mutual enhancement effects. Skin disposition indicated that DEET produced a faster transdermal permeation rate and higher systemic absorption extent, but oxybenzone formed a concentrated depot within the skin and delivered the content slowly over the time. In vivo AUCP/MRT of DEET and oxybenzone was increased by 37%/17% and 63%/10% when the two compounds were used together. No DEET was detected from the urine samples 48 h after the application. Tape stripping seemed to be a satisfactory approach for quantitative assessment of DEET and oxybenzone penetration into the stratum corneum. It was also concluded that pharmacological and toxicological perspectives from concurrent application of insect repellent and sunscreen products require further evaluation to ensure use efficacy and safety of these common consumer healthcare products.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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