Is there a problem with the use of sunblock and vitamin D deficiency?

This is something I was recently asked to discuss for Dermatology Times. People are now becoming more and more aware of vitamin D deficiency as a reason for various medical problems.

The question has arisen in my practice whether or not the use of sunblock is responsible for lower levels of vitamin D in conscientious sun avoiders. Until a scientific study is done, we cannot say for certain however it seems reasonable that one should not totally avoid the sun as vitamin D metabolism is influenced by it.

I recommend that my patients do use sunblock but use it appropriately. By that I mean to use it on sun-exposed areas when there is extended exposure to the sun as when playing sports or going to the beach.  Simply walking back and forth from one’s car to work inside a building may not require the use of sunblock.  A little bit of sun is obviously good for the skin, realizing however that burning is harmful. A easy rule of thumb is if you are going to be in direct sunlight for more than 15 minutes, you should apply sunblock unless you have very sensitive skin that burns sooner than that.

Additionally, one must be careful not to overuse sunblock due to the fact that sunblocks do contain chemicals and the skin does absorb chemicals that are applied to it. Therefore, we should minimize unnecessary exposure to chemicals. This is why I don’t recommend moisturizers that contain sunblock. Individuals have a tendency to put the sunblock-containing moisturizers on at night as well as in the daytime and there is no reason to protect oneself from sun that isn’t there.

My preference for a sunblock is one that is no stronger than an SPF 30. I also prefer sunblocks, like ours at Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants, that contain tried and true ingredients rather than sunblocks that strive to incorporate newer ingredients that have not been tested for very long in the general population.

– Dr. Bussell

Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants

433 N. Camden Drive, Suite 805   Beverly Hills, CA 90210 | 310-550-7661


Dr. Bussell of Beverly Hills Dermatology Consultants, featured in Dermatology TImes

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