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Dermbusters: Dawn L. Sammons, DO

Featuring Dawn Merritt, DO |

Dermatology Residency Program Director
OhioHealth Riverside Hospital
Columbus, OH

| Published June 29, 2023

In this episode of Dermbusters, Dr. Nick Brownstone asks Dr. Dawn Sammons how she dispels myths often heard from patients about tanning and tretinoin use.

Does a base tan prevent sunburn?

First, Dr. Brownstone asks Dr. Sammons what she says to patients who believe getting a base tan prevents sunburn and the need for sunscreen. She explains to her patients that while a base tan may provide a very slight level of SPF, it does not prevent the need for sunscreen, and pretanning ultimately increases the amount of sun damage patients get. For patients still desiring the look of a base tan, she advises a spray tan. 

She notes that with social media often promoting misconceptions about base tans, dermatologists must work to help dispel these notions among their patients.

Does tretinoin make you more sun-sensitive?

Next, Dr. Brownstone chats with Dr. Sammons on the belief that tretinoin makes the skin more sun-sensitive. She states that while true, the slight decrease in minimum effective dose associated with topical retinoid use is not time-sensitive, and that skin won’t be any more sensitive in the daylight hours than in the evening. Considering this, she questions the reasoning dermatologists have for instructing patients to apply retinoid at night. 

Dr. Sammons explains that she encourages patients to apply their retinoid at whatever time they are most likely to adhere to. In her experience, her younger patients tend to have more consistent routines in the morning as opposed to at bedtime.

She concludes by explaining that historically, retinoids were photolabile and thus deactivated by sunlight. As a result, dermatologists instructed patients to apply retinoids at night. Currently, however, all preparations are micronized and photostable for up to 8 hours, which is sufficient time for retinoid to be absorbed.


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