According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, sunscreen is best suited for effective protection against harmful UV rays while enjoying a day at the beach. Even though beach umbrellas also have their merits, the shade they offer is not enough to keep people from getting sunburns.
Researchers from Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc. in Skillman, New Jersey, led by Dr. Hao Ou-Yang required 81 individuals with fair skin to spend three and a half hours exposed to direct sunlight in August 2014. Some of the participants were offered an umbrella, while others were asked to apply sunscreen with SPF 100. Upon analyzing the results, the researchers observed that 41 people who used an umbrella to shade themselves from the sun suffered 142 sunburn areas, while those who coated themselves with sunscreen suffered only 17 sunburns, collectively.
In percentage points, this roughly translates to 78 percent of the subjects affected by UV rays while using only an umbrella to protect themselves from the sun, with only 25 percent suffering skin damage after applying sunscreen.
If one thing was clear, however, was that neither sunscreen nor umbrellas proved 100 percent effective against UV rays. Hence, dermatologists recommend people who wish to relax at the beach to take additional precautionary measures, such as wearing clothes, seeking shade, and wearing hats.
Health experts recommend people to apply sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30 every time they go out in the sun while at the beach. Also, seeing shade whenever possible increases the chances of a more effective protection against skin damage and UV rays. Doctors say that even in shade, UV rays could reach one’s skin indirectly, hence the need for sunscreen.
In order to protect the population from sunburns, health experts identified the best times to enjoy a summer day by the pool or at the beach. Hence, going out from early morning until 11 a.m. and after 4 p.m. are regarded as the best time frames in which people can safely enjoy the warmth of the sun. Of course, this doesn’t mean the use of sunscreen becomes optional, say the researchers.
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