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Dermatology Online Journal

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The economic burden of sunscreen usage


Excessive sun exposure is known to be the leading cause of skin cancer. The direct cellular damage inflicted by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun results in premature aging, DNA damage, and mutations that ultimately lead to skin cancer. Sunscreens are highly recommended to protect against UV radiation. However, little research has been conducted on the economic burden of sunscreen use. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the annual cost of sunscreen under both ideal and actual use conditions while stratifying for the sun protection factor (SPF) and by the name brand or equivalent store brand sunscreen. Pricing data was collected for sunscreens of SPF 30, 50, 70, and 100. For each type of sunscreen, the size and price of the container were recorded. Our results demonstrated that sunscreen prices increased with SPF but purchasing a generic sunscreen resulted in savings of 40%-50%. Our estimates reveal that sunscreens are affordable with annual expenditures ranging from $30.21 to $61.94, depending on brand, for SPF 50 sunscreens used with minimal application density for the average person.

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