Category Archives: Dr. Leffell in the media


I commented on the myth of base tans for Scientific American. See the article here:

Salon / Scientific American.

Over the years I have been impressed by how many college students insist on “getting a tan before they get a tan” at spring break. This American rite of passage invariably results in an untold number of sunburns–red, painful noses, shoulders, feet–virtually anywhere the sun can get reflected by sand and water. The MYTH has been that a base tan will help protect your skin for the “REAL THING”. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Any sun exposure intended to tan will harm your skin damaging the DNA inside the skin cells. Tanning is a natural mechanism to prevent damage to the DNA but it is not a strategy to protect against intentional injury. A so-called base tan provides a sun protection factor so low it is practically equivalent to having no meaningful protection at all. See my comments in this article from the

It was a busy few days after the FDA announced its new sunscreen labeling guidelines. On balance, the public will benefit but complete clarity remains elusive. Bottom line: use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 that also provides broad spectrum (ingredients to look for: avobenzone or zinc oxide) apply every couple of hours while active outdoors (claims of sweat-proof and waterproof will no longer be accepted by the FDA); and make sure that you avoid the sun during peak hours of 10 am to 4 pm. Don’tforget hats and other sun protective clothing as you’ll read in the NPR interview.

 Here’s a brief extract of my comments from All Things Considered with Nancy Shute:

The FDA says there’s no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen. They all wash off in the pool, or with sweat. Starting next summer, the best a label will be able to claim is that a sunscreen is water resistant.

Leffell adds:

“A white T-shirt gives you a sun protection factor of 6, which frankly is not very helpful at all,” he says. “But there are so many products out there: sun-protective clothing products that are rated for their sun protection and don’t look like prison uniforms anymore. They actually look like real clothing.”

And protective clothing that looks like real clothes is a good thing, because skin cancer rates in young people are on the rise. Leffell is seeing cases of young women in their 20s developing skin cancer, “which used to be unheard of,” he says.

Listen to the segment itself

Also, other points are made in the Hartford Courant

Sun Hygiene Activities

Consistent sun hygiene includes regular use of sunscreen or sunblock.

In a recent interview with I coined the term “sun hygiene” to specifically refer to those activities that are proven to help maintain your skin in healthy condition while outdoors. Dermatologists talk frequently about the ways to protect your skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, and dentists talk frequently about the importance of good dental hygiene to maintain your teeth and gums in a healthy state. In essence, care of your skin needs to follow the same daily routine that you pursue for dental health. The care, when it comes to your skin, goes beyond just the use of sunscreen, which is critical, but involves a whole range of simple steps that will help your skin stay healthy and attractive throughout your life.

Here are five key steps to effective sun hygiene: Continue Reading »

When Tattoos Are Not Forever

In an article this year in the Wall Street Journal by well-known health reporter Laura Johannes, Dr. Leffell was quoted on the subject of home removal treatments for tattoos.

“Where they are really effective, they are probably risky for home use. Where they are not risky, they are probably also less effective,” says David J. Leffell, a professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine.

To read the whole article visit

Sunscreen Labeling

What is your sunscreen label really saying? This topic is discussed in an article in the May edition of Vogue Magazine.  In that article Dr. Leffell answers the question “What security do the tempting new SPF 100s actually provide?”  Continue Reading »

“Wear a lot of Sunscreen”

An article in the May 2011 issue of Real Simple itemizes a 4-step routine to keep your skin healthy in the summer.  Dr. Leffell is quoted in this article as saying “Unless your moisturizer has broad-spectrum protection of at least SPF 15, you’ll have to wear a separate sunscreen on top. Apply it often (every couple of hours), and reapply after sweating or swimming.” Continue Reading »


Dr. Leffell is quoted in a recent Fitness Magazine article that discusses the little red and white bumps that crop up along your bra line after a long outdoor workout.  “If the bumps are white or colorless and don’t hurt, they’re probably blocked sweat glands.  Try airing out the area as much as possible, and alternate between racerback and tank styles to avoid irritating the same area of skin. If the bumps are red and tender, they’re likely pimples; apply an OTC acne treatment with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to dry them out.” Continue Reading »

Indoor Tanning Seen as Less Dangerous

Dr. Leffell explains the misconception about indoor tanning.

The most preventable cancer is among the most commonBefore you lie in the sun without your sunscreen this summer, consider that cases of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, are rising significantly. In fact, more new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year than new cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined. Continue Reading »

New York Magazine's Best Doctors 2010Fifty of New York’s best doctors are at Yale Medical Group

New York magazine’s 2010 list of the region’s top doctors includes 50 Yale Medical Group physicians—practicing in 36 specialties, from dermatology to medical oncology to vascular surgery.

This year’s list, published in the June 14 issue, is based on the annual guidebook to the New York metro area’s top doctors published by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd., an information and research company in New York City. Continue Reading »