Lifestyle

Health care visits for sunburn are rare

Health care encounters for the diagnosis of sunburn are uncommon but not negligible, according to a research letter published online Aug. 11 in JAMA Dermatology.

Malgorzata K. Nowakowska, from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues used data from Truven MarketScan to identify sunburn visits among commercially insured patients from January 2009 to December 2018. The clinical settings and demographic characteristics of patients were assessed.

The researchers identified 186,168 patients with 208,777 encounters with sunburn diagnoses (0.15 percent of patients). The vast majority of patients only had a single encounter with a sunburn diagnosis (91.6 percent). Sunburn diagnosis was more common among women and younger patients, with one-fifth of encounters occurring in the emergency or urgent care setting. Of outpatient visits, dermatologists (26.0 percent) and family medicine clinicians (22.0) handled the most encounters. Most encounters did not appear to include sunburn medical management.

“Our results suggest that administrative data can be used to expand our ability to study sunburn beyond self-reported surveys and may represent a resource for public health initiatives in skin cancer prevention and detection,” the authors write.