How Community Pharmacists Can Personalize Skin Awareness Counseling

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Colleen McCabe, PharmD, BCOP, emphasizes the importance of a proactive and tailored approach for pharmacists educating patients on skin cancer risks specific to their communities.

In the community pharmacy setting, pharmacists are frequently approached by patients seeking guidance on a variety of skin-related issues. These interactions range from specific questions about topical medications and OTC remedies to concerns about general skin conditions such as rashes or dryness. According to Colleen McCabe, PharmD, BCOP, oncology clinical specialist in adult melanoma and sarcoma at Vanderbilt University and Medical Center, these encounters represent powerful opportunities to educate patients on sun protection and skin cancer awareness.

“I think community pharmacists are really well positioned to make a difference in the community, especially about skin awareness,” said McCabe. “Oftentimes, patients come up to their community pharmacists asking about different rashes, different conditions with their skin, so I think that is a really great lead way for community pharmacists to create skin awareness about doing those annual self-checks, making sure they are established either with a [primary care provider] or dermatologist in the area, making sure that they are getting those yearly skin examinations, especially if they’ve had concerning spots in the past.”

To enhance their value to patients seeking counseling on skin-related issues, McCabe urges pharmacists to “be a part of [their] community.” This includes understanding unique community risk factors associated with sun protection and skin cancer such as ultraviolet (UV) exposure, occupational hazards, and patient demographics. By tailoring their approach based on these factors, pharmacists can optimize skin awareness within their respective patient population.

“Any areas in the country where patients are exposed to more UV radiation [or] more sunlight—so areas of high elevation, areas where you have more direct rays, more of our southern areas, thinking of Florida, and areas like that—would be more at risk,” said McCabe. “So, pharmacists that are working in those areas [should] just be aware of that to be able to educate their patients.”

READ MORE: Dermatology Resource Center

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