The safety of nanoparticles in sunscreens: An update for general practice

Aust Fam Physician. 2016 Jun;45(6):397-9.


Background: Recent media coverage has raised public awareness regarding the safety of sunscreens containing zinc (ZnO) and titanium (TiO2) nanoparticles. In Australia, the rates of skin cancer are among the highest in the world, and sunscreen is a commonly used protective agent against harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. General practitioners (GPs) commonly manage skin cancer and may be faced with questions from patients regarding the safety of sunscreens.

Objective: The aim of this article is to explain the role of nanoparticles in sunscreen, clarify the results of the literature regarding safety, and provide GPs with knowledge to assist in sun-safety discussion with patients.

Discussion: Current evidence suggests that the likelihood of harm from the use of sunscreens containing nanoparticles is low; however, further research into this area is required. Sunscreens have been proven to reduce rates of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers; hence, their use in prevention should be encouraged.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • General Practice
  • Humans
  • Metal Nanoparticles / adverse effects*
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Sunscreening Agents / adverse effects*
  • Titanium / adverse effects
  • Zinc Oxide / adverse effects


  • Sunscreening Agents
  • titanium dioxide
  • Titanium
  • Zinc Oxide