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J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 Mar;7(3):13-7.

Polypodium leucotomos as an Adjunct Treatment of Pigmentary Disorders.

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Director, Center for Clinical and Cosmetic Research, Center for Cosmetic Enhancement, Aventura, Florida; Voluntary Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida;
Bucay Center for Dermatology and Aesthetics, San Antonio, Texas; Voluntary Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Texas Heath Science Center, Department of Physician Assistant Studies, San Antonio, Texas;
Associate Professor of Dermatology, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, D.C., Callender Dermatology and Cosmetic Center, Glenn Dale, Maryland;
Director, AboutSkin Dermatology and DermSurgery, Englewood, Colorado; Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado;
Sadick Dermatology, New York, New York; Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York;
Director of Laser and Cosmetic Dermatology, Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York.



Extracts of the tropical fern Polypodium leucotomos appear to possess beneficial properties for the skin attributed to the presence of numerous compounds within the extract that have antioxidant and photoprotective properties. Orally administered Polypodium leucotomos may provide protection against the detrimental photoaging effects of sunlight and can also help reduce the frequency and severity of polymorphous light eruption. Polypodium leucotomos has also been shown to be beneficial for the prevention and potential treatment of several aesthetically relevant conditions.


The purpose of this review is to investigate the beneficial role of Polypodium leucotomos as an adjunct treatment for vitiligo, melasma, and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.


Based on a review of relevant literature including the results of a randomized, placebo-controlled study, the oral administration of Polypodium leucotomos significantly improved the severity of melasma in women after 12 weeks. Three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have demonstrated significant improvements in vitiligo when oral Polypodium leucotomos therapy was combined with psoralens plus ultraviolet A and narrowband ultraviolet B. No controlled studies have assessed the efficacy of Polypodium leucotomos for the treatment of postinflammatory hyperpigmentation; however, its known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and demonstrated effectiveness for melasma support its use for treating this condition. No adverse events have been associated with the use of Polypodium leucotomos.


In addition to preventing many harmful effects associated with sunlight exposure, orally administered Polypodium leucotomos also appears to provide adjunctive benefits in treating vitiligo, melasma, and may have the potential to help with postinflammatory hyperpigmentation.

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