Supplements may thwart sunburn for sweaty

WASHINGTON — You don’t have to be an athlete to work up a sweat outside these days — and all that sweat can play havoc with your sunscreen.

Heavy perspiration can, in essence, push the sunscreen off the skin, cutting the level of protection. And there is an extra problem — especially for those who need sun protection while running, walking or playing sports such as beach volleyball in the heat. Sweat rolling down the face can mix with sunscreen and potentially create some pretty nasty eye irritation.

That is why many dermatologists are such strong fans of sports sunscreens during the dog days of summer. They are designed to stick to the skin better, and many brands are mineral based and less irritating.

But even the best sunscreen is sometimes not enough, according to Dr. Adam Friedman, an associate professor of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

He recommends a sun protection regimen that also includes physical barriers such as hats, sunglasses and even special clothing with protection built right in.

And there is one more thing he might add to the mix — an herbal supplement derived from a South American fern called polypodium leucotomos.

“There is actually a lot of evidence behind its effect as an antioxidant and also as something that can boost the skin’s natural ability to repair damage from ultraviolet radiation,” Friedman said.

This over-the-counter supplement has been the subject of numerous studies and has been shown to have a benefit, but it is not a miracle cure or an end all, be all.

“There is a lot of nice evidence supporting taking the supplement on a daily basis,” said Friedman, adding that it must be part of an overall sun protection routine.

It may be especially helpful for those who exercise or work outdoors in the heat. And while more research is needed — and more studies are underway — those trials conducted so far show polypodium leucotomos to be safe and effective.

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