Increasing Use of Sunbeds for Acne Self-treatment

Pavankumar Kamat

August 23, 2021

A new study published in the journal  Clinical and Experimental Dermatology  indicates that routine use of sunbeds for self-treatment of acne is quite prevalent in the UK.

Sunbed use has been established as a significant risk factor for the development of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Furthermore, concurrent use of oral retinoid therapy may increase the risk of sunburn in sunbed users

Adults (n=278) attending a UK tertiary dermatology clinic for the management of acne (from November 2019 to February 2020) were invited to complete a questionnaire, which collected information on skin phototype, duration since diagnosis of acne, treatments for acne and sunbed use. Of the 278, 182 (65%) completed the survey.

Twenty-six per cent of respondents reported using sunbeds outside of a medical setting for self-treatment of acne (mean duration of use, 7.6 months). Sunbed users had a higher likelihood of being older, being female, having a longer duration of acne diagnosis and having previously been offered blue light therapy by their physician (P<.05 for all).

Among sunbed users, 32% reported using several times a week and 40% reported using once a week. Sunbed use was most common during winter. Sixty-two per cent of sunbed users had also used isotretinoin during the past one year and 49 per cent were current users of isotretinoin.

The authors stated: "Although public health campaigns have decreased sunbed use in the general population, these campaigns are failing to reach dermatology patients evidenced by the significant proportion continuing to use sunbeds as self-treatment. This gap in public awareness on the dangers of sunbed use must be addressed, particularly in light of a growing global skin cancer epidemic."

The authors urge dermatologists to be vigilant when counselling patients who are likely to use sunbeds, particularly those taking isotretinoin.

Bali R, Ji-Xu A, Felton SJ. The significant health threat from sunbed use as a self-treatment in patients with acne. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2021 Aug 18 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1111/ced.14899. PMID: 34407228

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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