Beach Umbrella Offers Limited Protection Against Sun Rays: Research

Beach Umbrella Offers Limited Protection Against Sun Rays: Research

While health experts have repeatedly urged people to use sunscreen whenever they are out in the Sun, many people believe that umbrella can offer similar benefits. Umbrella can save you from direct sunlight but there are indirect rays, which still impact your skin if you are out in the Sun. The best protection is offered by sunscreen, a new study conducted in the United States has reported. The research team compared the impact of using sunscreen or beach umbrella on study subjects in Texas. Researchers found that 78 percent of study subjects who used only umbrella as a protection against sun, suffered sunburns after staying for 3.5 hours in the sun.

The study team added that people should not undermine the benefits offered by sunscreen. For light-skinned people, application of sunscreen is important whenever they are outside during day time. The sun rays are strong between 11 am and 4 pm and people should either cover their body parts and should apply sunscreen on exposed skin. The study team wanted to compare the protection offered by normal beach umbrella with sunscreen offered high protection against sunrays.

The study was led by Dr. Hao Ou-Yang from Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc. in Skillman, New Jersey. Dr. Ou-Yang said that sunscreen offers better protection than umbrella but neither of them offers 100 percent protection. Among study subjects, 25 percent of individuals using sunscreen suffered sunburns after staying in sun for 3.5 hours. The study team used strong sunscreen with SPF 100. Usually, health experts recommend people to use at least SPF 30 sunscreen.

The study has been published in the journal JAMA Dermatology. People who are vulnerable to sunburns should use combination of sunscreen and umbrella for optimum protection against sun.

Regarding the study participants and settings, the paper informed, “A single-center, evaluator-blinded, randomized clinical study was conducted from August 13 to 15, 2014, in Lake Lewisville, Texas (elevation, 159 m above sea level), among 81 participants with Fitzpatrick skin types I (n = 1), II (n = 42), and III (n = 38). Participants were randomly assigned to 2 groups: 1 using only a beach umbrella, and the other using only sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 100. All participants remained at a sunny beach for 3½ hours at midday. Clinical sunburn evaluation of each individual for all exposed body sites was conducted 22 to 24 hours after sun exposure.”

Health experts also suggest avoiding going out during peak hours of sunlight. In the recent years, the use of sunscreen has increased.

The study team concluded, “A beach umbrella alone may not provide sufficient protection for extended UV exposure. It is important to educate the public that combining multiple sun protection measures may be needed to achieve optimal protection.”

Next time you plan beach vacations, don’t forget to take sunscreen and umbrella.

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