Clinical Edge

Summaries of Must-Read Clinical Literature, Guidelines, and FDA Actions

Use of UV Radiation for Medical, Cosmetic Purposes

J Clin Aesthet Dermatol; 2018 Feb; Sampson, et al

Findings from a recent study directly contradict the assertion that dermatologists use ultraviolet (UV) radiation for cosmetic purposes or routinely refer patients to tanning salons. This study underscores the complex nature of UV radiation, as dermatologists infrequently utilize UV radiation for medical purposes and unanimously support restrictive legislation. In addition, these dermatologists counsel against cosmetic tanning and list tanning bed use among their highest concerns with regard to the health of pediatric patients. Researchers administered a 10-question anonymous survey to dermatologists (n=152) who attended meetings of 3 regional dermatologic societies. They found:

  • 0 physicians (0/152) recommended tanning salons for cosmetic reasons.
  • The total number of dermatologists referred 458 (417 adults, 41 pediatric) out of an estimated 809,369 patients (0.057%) to tanning salons for medical treatment.
  • Of these physicians, 76 out of 152 and 15 out of 152 reported referring at least 1 adult or 1 pediatric patient, respectively, within the last year.
  • All respondents supported UV tanning legislation and discouraged cosmetic tanning.


Sampson BP, Secrest AM, Hansen CB, Geller AC. Examining dermatologist use and opinions of ultraviolet radiation for cosmetic and medical purposes. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018;11(2):41–46.

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