Funding sources None.
The relation between sunscreen layer thickness and vitamin D production after ultraviolet B exposure: a randomized clinical trial
Article first published online: 26 JUL 2012
© 2012 The Authors. BJD © 2012 British Association of Dermatologists
British Journal of Dermatology
Volume 167, Issue 2, pages 391–395, August 2012
How to Cite
Faurschou, A., Beyer, D.M., Schmedes, A., Bogh, M.K., Philipsen, P.A. and Wulf, H.C. (2012), The relation between sunscreen layer thickness and vitamin D production after ultraviolet B exposure: a randomized clinical trial. British Journal of Dermatology, 167: 391–395. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2012.11004.x
Conflicts of interest None declared.
- Issue published online: 26 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 26 JUL 2012
- Accepted manuscript online: 18 APR 2012 02:06PM EST
- Accepted for publication 6 April 2012
Background Sunscreens absorb ultraviolet B (UVB) and it is a major concern that sunscreen use may lead to vitamin D deficiency.
Objectives To investigate the relation between the amount of sunscreen applied and the vitamin D serum level in humans after UVB exposure under controlled conditions.
Methods Thirty-seven healthy volunteers with fair skin types were randomized to receive an inorganic sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 8 of 0 mg cm−2, 0·5 mg cm−2, 1 mg cm−2, 1·5 mg cm−2, or 2 mg cm−2 thickness on the upper body, approximately 25% of the body area. Participants were irradiated with a fixed UVB dose of 3 standard erythema doses 20 min after sunscreen application. This procedure was repeated four times with a 2- to 3-day interval. Blood samples were drawn before the first irradiation and 3 days after the last to determine the serum vitamin D level expressed as 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D].
Results The vitamin D serum level increased in an exponential manner with decreasing thickness of sunscreen layer in response to UVB exposure. For all thicknesses of sunscreen, the level of 25(OH)D increased significantly after irradiation (P < 0·05), except for the group treated with 2 mg cm−2, in which the increase in 25(OH)D was not statistically significant (P = 0·16).
Conclusions Vitamin D production increases exponentially when thinner sunscreen layers than recommended are applied (< 2 mg cm−2). When the amount of sunscreen and SPF advised by the World Health Organization are used, vitamin D production may be abolished. Re-evaluation of sun-protection strategies could be warranted.