Henry Lim, MD: Phototherapy, Photoprotection, UV Filter Environmental Effects

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In his conference presentation ‘Phototherapy and Photoprotection,’ Lim describes some key takeaways and research on UV filter and photoprotection health effects.

In his latest interview with HCPLive, Henry Lim, MD, discussed environmental and health effects of UV filters and other information on phototherapy and photoprotection featured in his presentation from the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) 2023 Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

Lim is known for his work both as a dermatologist and as the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

“So currently, practically all major medical centers would have narrowband UVB phototherapy. Many of the practices also would have narrowband UVB phototherapy,” he explained. “In years past, PUVA was another photo chemotherapeutic therapy available. But that is no longer used as much at this moment. So narrowband is the most commonly used one.”

Lim added that this phototherapy is important for dermatologists to be aware of, as it is used for psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, vitiligo, and many other skin conditions.

“Mycosis fungoides is another one for which phototherapy is widely used,” he said. “Especially for patch or minimally-elevated plaque stage disease. This is a safe alternative to many of the therapies that we have.”

Lim then discussed the topic of the health effects of photoprotection, a topic which he described as actively-discussed and somewhat controversial. Specifically, he mentioned the potential bleaching of coral reefs due to UV filters.

“Oxybenzone is the most commonly cited one,” he said. “It should be noted that that study was done in an in-vitro laboratory setting using concentration of oxybenzone. There was significantly higher (oxybenzone) than what is found and measured in sea water around Hawaii, where the issue has been very actively discussed.”

Additionally, Lim noted that the National Academies found that there was no clear evidence one way or the other, adding that the data was collected and measured in diverse ways. This made it difficult to put everything together and come to a firm conclusion.

“Sunscreen use is part of the photoprotection package—not the only part—but the report suggests that if there is some concern about sunscreen, it might lead to decreased practice of photoprotection,” he said. “Of course, you know, that could have a negative impact on skin health.”

To find out more about Lim’s presentation at the conference, view the interview above.