Derms on Sunscreen: Do As We Say and As We Do

May 18, 2016

Dermatologists are all on the same page when it comes to sunscreen safety and effectiveness, according to a new survey from the National Society for Cutaneous Medicine (NSCM).

Fully 99 percent dermatologists agree that regular use of sunscreens helps lower skin cancer risk, and 96 percent consider US Food and Drug Administration-approved sunscreens to be safe, including those with filters like oxybenzone and avobenzone.

Virtually all dermatologists polled recommend their family and friends use sunscreen to help protect their skin, and cite SPF levels as one of the main criteria that they regularly use to recommend a sunscreen.  Overall, 92 percent are comfortable recommending sunscreens with a SPF 50 or higher, the survey showed.

"Skin cancer rates are rapidly increasing with more than 350 cases diagnosed each hour. One in 5 Americans will get this cancer during their lifetime," says Darrell Rigel, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at New York University Medical School and Society board member, in a news release. "Making smart choices about sunscreen is one of the most important decisions people can make when it comes to preventing skin cancer. It's important that people have the best information to lower their skin cancer risk."

The NCSM recommends choosing:

  • Sunscreens with labels that list UVA and UVB (or broad spectrum) protection and a minimum of SPF 30 and an SPF 50+ if you are outdoors for an extended period.
  • The formulation – stick, lotion or spray - that you and your family will be most likely to regularly use.
  • Starting sun protection early in life.

The survey was sent by email in April 2016 to practicing U.S. dermatologists.  The survey assessed each dermatologist's perception of sunscreen, recommendation factors, and personal and family usage. Data were analyzed using standard statistical methods with 95% confidence intervals.


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