A new study from Johnson & Johnson stated recently that using sunscreen was a more efficient sun blocker than just using an umbrella. The study found that 78 percent of people who only used umbrellas suffered sunburns compared to 25 percent of individuals who suffered sunburns after using sunscreen. However, neither method was 100 percent effective at blocking sunburns.
Sunburns occur when skin is overexposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Common symptoms include red or reddish skin that is hot to the touch, pain, fatigue and even mild dizziness. Too much UV radiation can lead to non-malignant skin tumors and three types of skin cancer including melanoma, basal-cell carcinoma, and squamous-cell carcinoma.
Eighty-one fair-skinned people participated in the study, each one staying in the sun for three and a half hours in Texas during August of 2014. According to PerfScience, participants were offered an umbrella or a sunscreen with SPF 100. The team found 41 people who used umbrellas that 142 areas that were sunburned while those who used sunscreen had 17 sunburned areas. Dr. Hao Ou-Yang, study lead from Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey stated that “people should be careful when they are going out in the sun or for beach vacations.” Dr. Ou-Yang went on to say that using the correct SPF sunscreen, wearing proper clothing, a hat, and “seeking shade” was also helpful in avoiding a sunburn. Speaking to Reuters, the research team said that umbrellas designed for the beach will block rays directly from the sun, however they offer no protection against scattered rays.
Even when using sunscreen, many primary care physicians recommend staying in the shade when possible. Dr. Jennifer Stein, a NYU Langone Medical Center dermatologist in New York City stated that people should not trust a single method for protection from the sun. She went on to say the best thing to do when outside is to try avoiding the middle of the day, find shade to sit in, wear clothing that protects from the sun, and use sunscreen. Other suggestions include avoiding the hottest part of the day from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Dr. Stein added that with using several protective strategies, people with the “fairest skin” could prevent sunburns.
The study was published in JAMA Dermatology. The report concluded that public education regarding extended UV exposure was necessary and that “combining multiple sun protection measures may be needed to achieve optimal protection.”
By Cheryl Werber