Talk more about sunscreen

September 10, 2013

A recent survey shows that physicians mention the importance of sunscreen least often to children. In fact, the survey indicates that physicians aren’t mentioning sunscreen that much to anyone, but when they do, it’s most often to white patients in their eighties and not to kids or teenagers.

 

A recent survey shows that physicians mention the importance of sunscreen least often to children. In fact, the survey indicates that physicians aren’t mentioning sunscreen that much to anyone, but when they do, it’s most often to white patients in their eighties and not to kids or teens.

Researchers using the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey determined that an estimated 18.3 billion patient visits occurred nationwide to nonfederal outpatient physician offices at US ambulatory care practices between January 1989 and December 2010, and physicians mentioned sunscreen at only 12.83 million visits (0.07%). Not surprisingly, dermatologists tended to mention sunscreen more than other physicians.

What may be worse is that physicians discussed use of sunscreen at only 0.9% of office visits with patients already diagnosed with skin disease. Actinic keratosis was the diagnosis most commonly associated with a mention of sunscreen.

Teenagers in particular may need reminding about sunscreen, not just because of outdoor tanning, but also because of indoor tanning. Recently published data compiled from the national Youth Risk-Behavior Survey of high school students and the National Health Interview Survey for adults aged 18 to 34 years indicate that among women who report any indoor tanning, more than half engage in frequent indoor tanning (ie, 10 times per year or more). For example, among non-Hispanic white female high school students, 29.3% engaged in indoor tanning and 16.7% engaged in frequent indoor tanning during the previous year. Among those aged 18 to 34 years, 24.9% tanned indoors and 15.1% frequently tanned indoors during the previous year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that pediatricians have an obligation to discourage UVR exposure from the sun or from indoor tanning among children and adolescents for the prevention of skin cancer.

 

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