With summer quickly approaching, beachgoers are eager to get out and bask in the sun. According to a new study, anyone spending such time under the sun's rays should consider sunscreen protection or designated time in the shade to prevent skin cancer.

Spanish researchers have analyzed the effect of preventative measures such as physical barriers and sunscreen on nevi.

Dysplastic nevi are benign moles that, if left untreated, can develop into a more serious case of melanoma, one of the deadliest types of a skin cancer. The more nevus people acquire, the higher the risk of melanoma.

The research team, led by Cristina Carrera, M.D., of the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Spain, examined 23 nevi from 20 voluntary patients from nearby hospitals. Half of the moles were covered by either a physical barrier or sunscreen and the other half were left vulnerable to UV rays.

Assessments of the nevi were taken before the experiment began and progress was evaluated seven days after the research concluded.

Researchers noted that clinical changes after UV radiation application included pigmentation, scaling, and erythema. Dermatological changes included blurred network, regression, and dotted vessels.

Results showed that both physical barriers and sunscreen effectively reduced these unwelcomed skin cancer indicators. However, the team did report that a spot of shade was better suited for regression and inhibiting the activation of melanin-producing cells.

"Both physical barriers and sunscreens can partially prevent UV-B effects on nevi. Subclinical UV radiation effects, not always associated with visible changes, can develop even after protection," wrote Dr. Carrera and her colleagues.

"Sunscreens are not quite as effective as physical barriers in the prevention of inflammatory UV-B-induced effects."

The study's findings are published in the May 8 edition of the online journal JAMA Dermatology.