Is Your Doctor Advising You About Sunscreen?

Physicians mention sunscreen at a low rate during patient visits, even to patients with a history of skin cancer, according to a study by Kristie L. Akamine, M.D., Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues.

Researchers used the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to identify patient visits to non-federal outpatient physician offices at U.S. ambulatory care practices from January 1989 through December 2010 during which sunscreen was recommended.

According to the results, physicians mentioned sunscreen at about 12.8 million visits (0.07 percent). Physicians reported mentioning sunscreen at 0.9 percent of patient visits associated with the diagnosis of a skin disease. Sunscreen was mentioned most frequently to white patients and least frequently to children, the results also indicate.

‰ÛÏThe findings are concerning because children and adolescents get the most sun exposure of any age group, as they tend to spend much of their time playing outdoors. Up to 80 percent of sun damage is thought to occur before age 21 years, and sunburns in childhood greatly increase the risk for future melanoma,‰Û the authors conclude.

So don’t wait to be ask, ask your physicians for recommendations specific to your sunscreen needs. Of course we all should be applying it. But conditions may vary with each person. So best to check.

Source: JAMA Dermatol. Published September 4, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.4741)