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9th April 2015

Sunscreen’s Role in Healthcare

Over 400,000 prescriptions were given for sunscreen last year.

Sunscreen has made the headlines this week following a report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre on the number of sunscreen prescriptions issued in 2014.

According to the figures, over 400,000 prescriptions were given for sunscreen last year and many news outlets are asking why – further fuelling the myth that sunscreen is a ‘luxury cosmetic’. The fact is that, whilst essential for life, the sun’s can cause a lot of damage to those with certain medical conditions.

From photo-sensitivities to photo-induced skin conditions, such as skin cancers, UV rays can cause undeniable damage if the correct precautions are not taken. It’s well documented that skin cancer has been on the rise since the 1970’s and, sadly, the fatality rate from skin cancers is increasing in the UK.

So why are people being prescribed sunscreen? Only certain sunscreens can be prescribed, and some people can be eligible for prescription sunscreen due to a medical condition, or a history of skin cancer. The prescribing of sunscreens to patients who meet the clearly defined criteria is up to the discretion of their GP.

In fact, countries such as Australia and the USA classify sunscreens as medicines, and not cosmetics. Therefore, in the UK, GPs have a duty to provide prescriptions when there is a medical need to prevent life-threatening health conditions from forming in the future.


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