Medical Experts Weigh In On This New Form Of Skin Protection

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you have spent time in the sun this summer chances are you’ve lathered up with lotions, sprays, and oils to keep your skin healthy.

But what if all you needed was a pill?

Experts recently told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson that a pill derived from a fern extract may be helpful in fighting against the sun’s harmful rays.

“Native Americans for centuries have used this extract to treat inflammatory disorders, some skin diseases,” Dr. Brian Horvath explained.

The pills have an anti-inflammatory effect that protects the skin from the damage that comes from ultraviolet light, Horvath said.

“On skin biopsies, they had less DNA damage, and that suggests it may help not just sunburns but also preventing skin cancer, also things like wrinkles,” he said.

Experts said that when combined with other forms of sun protection the pills can be effective.

“The more the better, if you wear a hat, sun block, and avoid the beach in the middle of the day that’s even better,” said Dr. Anne Dacko.

Because this is an over-the-counter supplement effective doses have not been determined, and experts caution that more information is still needed.

“Regular topical sunscreen has been tested by the FDA. It actually has an SPF number. These pills don’t have any of that,” Dr. Horvath said.

Doctors added that the pill is not meant to replace sunscreen.

“I would never rely on the pill alone to protect you from sunburn or skin cancer. At this stage, it’s more of an adjunct — something you would use with traditional topical sunscreen and maybe also some photoprotective clothing,” Dr. Horvath said.

The pill is not meant to be taken by children and could interact with other medications. Experts said that everybody should speak with a doctor before taking any kind of supplement.

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