We get to see many ads of sunscreen products around us when July comes every year. But do the pills and the capsules really do offer same protection like traditional creams and lotions? One top dermatologist says no. Such products only work if used with the traditional sunscreens.

Dermatology’s division director at Loyola University Medical Center, Rebecca Tung says

“These products are fine in that may offer additional protection from the sun, but they should not be used in place of regular sunscreen products. It’s not an either one-or-the-other type of thing.”

Skin cancer happens to be the most common of all cancer forms in US, with 3.5M cases being annually diagnosed. Cases jumped 77% in past 2 decades, and that of melanoma, most dangerous of all forms, doubled.

The sunscreen products are around since 1940s and they tend to be effective, though have the drawbacks associated. They could be sticky and leave whitish residue. They are commonly available as cream, sprays or lotions and have to be frequently reapplied. Hence, market for such oral products is growing.

The oral sunscreens are marketed under some different names which include Fernblock, Sunpill and Heliocare. All of them contain some herb’s extract that is found in plant of cabbage leaf, Polypodium leucotomo. These pills, when internally taken, are advertised of blunting impact of the harmful ultra-violet rays, preventing the sun damage which leads to premature aging, skin cancer and sunburn.

As they tend to work from inside out, there isn’t any concern regarding their rubbing off and needing to have them reapplied to skin. But Dr Tung says that they aren’t effective as traditional products.

Dr Tung said that such products could be quite valuable when used as additional defense against UV rays of sun and that they’re anti-inflammatory and the antioxidants help to prevent the cellular damage and sop up the free radicals within body.

Anyway, such products aren’t 100% effective as they’re based on ability of body to have them absorbed, which could vary from one to another person, she told. Therefore, they shouldn’t alone be used, but along with the topical traditional products, according to her.

Some tips by Dr Tung for protection against sun include:

  • Avoid exposure from 10a.m. till 2p.m. when rays of sun are strongest
  • Apply sunscreen daily, including rainy and cloudy days
  • Apply it liberally. If lotion is being used, envision amount which would fill one shot glass, then use this much for every application.
  • Reapply it after every 2 hours or often if one plays sports, dives or swims.
  • Use product labeled minimum SPF 30. Those who have hyperpigmentation, darkening of skin, or have many freckles, use the sun protection which also contains zinc or titanium for additional protection.
  • Choose sunscreen labeled as broad spectrum for protection against UVB and UVA rays.
  • Use the sunscreen throughout the year. Rays of sun could be damaging also on clear and bright days.
  • Wear protective clothing and hat.
  • Buy sun umbrella when you go to beach and make sure to rotate it for shielding yourself from sun.
  • Do not forget eyes. Wear the sunglasses which offer protection from UV rays so that you could be protected against cataracts and aging.
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