Is 'sunscreen-pill' reliable way to protect your skin?
As more innovative and easier ways to protect the skin, like sunscreen-pill, are coming up in the market, scientists offer their advice in making a smart decisions about such products.
To help consumers make smart decisions when protecting their skin from the sun, board-certified dermatologist Henry W. Lim, offered some insight and said while taking a pill sounds like a more convenient way to protect the skin, seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 were still the most reliable methods of sun protection.
Dr. Lim said that of the ingredients found in sunscreen pills, the strongest research is linked to Polypodium leucotomos, an extract of a Central American fern plant, whose extract extract increases the amount of time it takes for skin to burn when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.
As per European studies, Polypodium leucotomos could also reduce sun sensitivity in people with polymorphous light eruption, a condition that causes an itchy rash when skin is exposed to the sun.
While pills with Polypodium leucotomos cannot be given a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating because the product is not applied to the skin, Dr. Lim said studies comparing the level of protection with that of a traditional sunscreen show the fern extract pill provides the equivalent to an SPF of 3 to 5. The level of protection is significantly less than the American Academy of Dermatology's (Academy) recommendation to use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Dr. Lim noted that each individual extract may have data behind it, but as a pill, there was no research to support their effectiveness when combined. The amount of each extract would have to be at reduced levels in order to be ingested in combination, which would then make each of the ingredients less effective.
Dr. Lim suggested to continue protecting the skin by means of shade, wearing protective clothing and applying sunscreen even if a person wanted to take a sunscreen pill.
(Posted on 10-08-2014)