Study Examines Mobile Applications in Dermatology

More than 200 dermatology-related mobile applications (apps) are available and they have the potential to expand the delivery of dermatologic care, according to a study by Ann Chang Brewer, M.D., of the University of Arizona, Phoenix, and colleagues.

Researchers identified the apps by type and price for Apple, Android, Blackberry, Nokia and Windows devices.

They identified 229 dermatology-related apps in several categories, including: general dermatology reference (61), self-surveillance/diagnosis aids (41), disease guides (39), educational aids (20) and sunscreen/UV (ultraviolet light) recommendations (19). Of the 229 apps, more than half were free. Some of the most commonly reviewed were UV recommendations and self-surveillance/diagnosis apps.

The authors warn patients and clinicians to maintain a healthy sense of skepticism about the apps. They note studies regarding the safety and accuracy of such apps are limited and misdiagnoses from the apps could harm patients by potentially delaying treatment for conditions such as melanoma.

“As our technological growth continues, the widespread use of mobile apps is likely to play an increasingly sophisticated role in dermatology. We have identified a variety of dermatology-related mobile apps and recognize both the potential benefit and inherent risk in their use for the management of skin disease,” the study concludes.

JAMA Dermatol. Published online September 25, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.5517