Healthy Beginnings

Use organic options for sunblock, natural remedies for sunburn

Dr. Robert Floyd

Summertime is here, and that means time to go outside and play. Saddle up your horse and head to the high Sierra for an epic trail ride. Take the kids fishing in the Truckee River. Jump on your bike and ride the dry-pond loop or pedal pavement down Jacks Valley Road to Genoa.

No matter what you get up to, however, every time you enjoy the outdoors this summer, it’s important to protect your body’s largest organ and its first line of defense — your skin.

Longer summer days expose your skin to more harmful UV rays. Whenever outdoors during the daytime, skin protection is recommended.

Board-certified dermatologist Ingrid Polcari, MD, FAAD, reminds people in a press release from the American Academy of Dermatology: “To get the best possible sun protection, it’s important to wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, and to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, not just your face and arms.”

Sunscreen blocks the skin’s exposure to radiation by two different methods — either physically by reflecting light or chemically by absorbing light, according to

The most important aspects of sunscreen are using it and using it properly. To apply sunscreen correctly, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following:

  1. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher; is water resistant; and provides broad-spectrum coverage.
  2. Apply sunscreen generously before going outdoors.
  3. Use enough sunscreen.
  4. Apply sunscreen to all bare skin.
  5. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessively sweating.

Fortunately, for we health-conscious outdoor enthusiasts, organic options are available. Many use zinc oxide with few other ingredients such as organic jojoba, beeswax, coconut oil and shea butter.

Badger All Natural Sunscreen is organic, water resistant, earth-friendly and biodegradable, making it ideal around fragile aquatic ecosystems like coral reefs. Kiss My Face, also organic, is kid-friendly, water-resistant and contains antioxidants to nourish the skin. Visit to learn about other natural options.

Even on overcast days here in the Sierra, up to 80 percent of the sun’s damaging UV rays can reach your skin. Many companies make sport-specific UV protective clothing that is breathable, light-weight and won’t slow you down.

Kastel of Denmark, with its U.S. headquarters here in Reno, makes both men’s and women’s UV blocking clothing. After spending years riding horses in the sun and being diagnosed with skin cancer, owner Charlotte Jorst founded Kastel to help others avoid a similar diagnosis, according to the company.

If you are unfortunate enough to get a sunburn, luckily there are naturopathic remedies to help heal and decrease the pain. MucorSAN cream from San Pharma is an all-natural cream from Germany. Its active ingredient is Mucor Racemosus, a fungus with known wound-healing properties.

Another natural product is aloe vera. The gel filling the leaves is a fantastic remedy for sunburns and is easily obtained by splitting the leaves and scraping out the gel. Many naturopaths recommend keeping an aloe plant in the home for quick access and immediate relief.

Now go outside and have fun. Remember to cover up and slather organic SPF 30 on all exposed skin.

Robert Floyd, MD, is a board-certified family physician practicing integrative and functional medicine at Gerber Medical Clinic in Reno. He is now accepting new patients. Visit or call 775-826-1900 for more information.