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14-07-2011 | Dermatology | Article

High sunscreen prices may prevent optimum use


Free abstract

MedWire News: Results from a French study suggest that the high price of sunscreen in many countries may make compliance with sun protection guidelines difficult for people who are at high risk for skin cancer.

The researchers concede that sunscreen prices are generally acceptable for protection of people at moderate risk for skin cancer who experience short periods of acute sun exposure, such as a week at the beach, if large, low-cost bottles are used, and sun protective clothing is worn.

Emmanuel Mahé (Universitaire Ambroise Paré, Boulogne-Billancourt) and colleagues compared prices of 607 sunscreens from 17 chemists in seven countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Canada, and the USA).

They found that the average price for sunscreen was US $1.70 (€1.20) per 10 g, and the price decreased with increasing bottle size.

Mahé and co-workers estimated that the median price for a family of four spending a week at the beach varied from $178.20 to 238.40 (€125.88 to 168.40) per week. The price went down by 33% if the family wore T-shirts with UV protection, and by 41% if large format bottles were used as opposed to small ones.

In contrast, a transplant patient at high risk for skin cancer, living in a sunny country, and who followed current sun protection guidelines, eg, wearing clothes that give maximal skin protection and applying sunscreen to hands, neck, and face on a regular basis, was estimated to have a median annual sunscreen cost ranging from $245.30 to $292.30 (€173.34 to 206.56).

"The price of adequate sun protection during acute exposure appears acceptable if three basic rules are followed, that is, respect of 'basic sun protection messages', buying large bottles, and choosing a sunscreen from the lower end of the price range," write the authors in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

"Although the weekly cost of sun protection is low in a sun-sensitive population requiring long-term protection, the annual cost is obviously substantially higher; patients may require financial assistance to be compliant with sun protection guidelines," they conclude.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Helen Albert