With the 4th of July around the corner and summer in full force it is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your skin.  I am sure everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with skin cancer.  One in five American will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. 1 It is important this summer to take steps in protecting the only skin you have against the sun, while still enjoying the outdoors and absorbing important vitamin D from the sun. About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.2   The Environmental Working Group puts out a sunscreen guide every year to help determine, which are the safest choices.  Check out for yourself how your sunscreen holds up: http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/.

It may be a different way to look at it, but sunscreen should be your last resort. When not wearing sunscreen:

  1. Cover up. Wear shirts, sunglasses, hats, shorts, and pants to shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
  2. Find shade during the day. Keep infants in the shade because there skin can burn easily.
  3. Plan around the sun. Go outdoors early in the morning or late afternoon when the sun’s rays are not as intense.
  4. Don’t get burned. If you are red, blistered, or sore you have exposed your skin to too much sun.
  5. Sunglasses are essential.  They are not only can be a fashion accessory, but will protect your eyes from UV radiation.
  6. Check the UV index. Prior to planning activities outdoors check the UV index that day to prevent overexposure.

If you follow the above rules you don’t always have to turn to sunscreen first.  The best way to get vitamin D if from the sun, but when that isn’t possible you should turn to vitamin D supplementation. Check our Dr. Chris’s video on the importance of Vitamin D.  You can be safe and still absorb the very important vitamin that is crucial for optimal health. If you would like more information on sunscreen I covered this topic in detail in our May Newsletter 2020.   It breaks down tips on how-to choose a safe sunscreen.    Enjoy the summer and stay well!

—Melanie Dockter, DC, CACCP


  1. Robinson, JK. Sun exposure, sun protection, and vitamin D. JAMA2005; 294:1541-43.
  2. Koh HK, Geller AC, Miller DR, Grossbart TA, Lew RA. Prevention and early detection strategies for melanoma and skin cancer: Current status. Arch Dermatol1996; 132(4):436-442.
  3. https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/ June 2020.