Summertime is beach time for millions of people all over the world. Due to recent concern regarding the increase of ultraviolet radiation due to depletions in the earth’s ozone layer, sunscreen preparations had been made stronger, and terms such as UVA/UVB and SPF 15 are becoming household terms. Despite aggressive media campaigns to tell people to wear more protective clothing when outside, and especially at the beach, most of these warnings are still disregarded to a great extent, resulting in more and cases of skin damage ranging from serious sunburn to skin cancer.
Many sunscreen preparations said to protect people from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, actually offer only partial protection. There are preparations that, if used properly, do offer much more protection – providing complete instructions are followed. A good sunscreen preparation should be rated to give protection against the UVA classification of ultraviolet sunlight – the strongest classification. UVA rays penetrate the skin deeper and have more chance to cause skin cancer or melanoma later on. A top quality preparation should also over at least SPF 15 protection; which means that people who have applied this strength of preparation can be exposed to the sun’s rays at least 15 times longer that those without this kind of protection. While SPF 15 preparations are now considered adequate in many locations, there are countries, notably Australia, where preparations going up to SPF 45 are available. Australia is now rated as having the highest levels of solar radiation. Mediterranean countries, including Israel, are not far behind in regards to the dangers of solar thermal radiation.
Even if one goes to the beach “armed” with the strongest sunscreen preparation that money can buy, there is still no guarantee that preparation alone will give adequate protection, even if all the directions are followed as closely as possible. Even if the preparation is continuously reapplied following a dip in the ocean, those planning to spend long periods at either a beach, or outside swimming pool should limit the time that their bodies are actually exposed to the sun’s rays. Small children, who have much more sensitive skin than adults, should be covered with a bathing suit that only lets their hands an feet remain uncovered. Large beach hats should be worn by both children and adults.
As sunscreen preparations usually wash off if a person goes into the water, the sunscreen preparation should be immediately re-applied afterwards. Beach umbrellas and other means of proving shade should be used; and beach goers should drink plenty of water, as dehydration can happen very easily, especially to children. A person’s skin tone is also a very important factor regarding how long one can expose himself or herself to the sun – if at all. And most important, it is advisable to not lay in the sun between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
While many of these advisories may seem to take away from the enjoyment of a beach, lake, or pool outing, it’s better to be safe than sorry.