There are already a large number of sunscreen products on the market for consumers to choose from, and new products have recently been released making selecting the best product a difficult decision.
To give customers some advice on how best to protect themselves from exposure to the sun, the American Academy of Dermatology recently interviewed a top dermatologist for his take on the new products – including sunscreen pills and even a drinkable sunscreen product.
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Officials from The American Academy of Dermatology recently spoke with Dr. Henry W. Lim, chairman of the dermatology department at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Here is what Dr. Lim had to say about some new sunscreen products – and some old and trusted treatments as well.
Q.) Can I use sunscreen pills instead of topical sunscreen?
Dr. Lim said pills may appear to offer a convenient method to protect your skin.
But he said traditional sun protection techniques remain the most reliable. These include seeking shade from the sun, wearing clothes and hats to protect you from the sun and using sunscreen that is water-resistant. The SPF of your sunscreen should be at least 30.
As for the new sunscreen pills, Lim said research connected to Polypodium leucotomos, a fern extract from Central America, indicates fern extract increases how long it takes the skin to burn after ultraviolet light exposure.
Lim said it’s unknown for sure how sunscreen pills work, but that many researchers believe Polypodium leucotomos acts like an antioxidant and protects the skin from sun damage.
The doctor also said sunscreen pills cannot be given an SPF rating, since the pills are not placed on the skin itself. Lim said studies have found pills offer an equivalent SPF of 3 to 5 – significantly less than what the American Academy of Dermatology suggests, which is to use sunscreen products with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Lim added that additional research should be done to help determine what the best uses of sunscreen pills are, and to determine if they pose long-term safety risks.
Q.) Can I use drinkable sunscreen instead of a topical one?
Lim said no scientific research has been published that would support using drinkable sunscreens.
Q.) Does my diet play a role in protecting me from the sun?
Lim said it has yet to be determined conclusively whether diet offers sun protection. He said studies indicate green tea extracts offer sun protection – but only when they are applied to the skin. No study has been performed that reveals whether drinking green tea provides skin protection from the sun.
Lim noted that vitamins C and E could protect the skin from sun damage, but he does not recommend that patients use supplements for that purpose. He said elevated doses of the supplements may provide some protection, but that those doses are higher than what is recommended.