For a long time, it has been part of cultural knowledge that exposure to sunlight can help treat eczema. Now, it is medically agreed that eczema can be treated using UV light. But does this mean that you should go out and get yourself sunburnt?
To answer this question, first, you have to consider the severity of your condition. The presence of eczema means that you will also be more vulnerable to sunburns, and too much exposure to sunlight is also generally harmful even to healthy people.
People with mild forms of eczema are advised to go out and get some sun, just as long as they do not over do it. However, for those with extreme cases of eczema, the use of actual sunlight to treat eczema is discouraged.
Medical Grade UV Rays
Patients with severe eczema are advised to obtain their UV light from a monitored system in a medical laboratory. Usually, it is administered in 30-minute sessions. The patient is made to stay in a cabinet naked with fluorescent tubes that emit UV rays to treat the condition.
The number of sessions required to treat the condition will vary from person-to-person. Generally, a patient will need less than 30 sessions to treat the symptoms of the condition.
This method of obtaining ultraviolet rays must be monitored by a trained doctor. Otherwise, the results will be similar to those one would experience if they simply had a sunbath for a long period of time. Such consequences include faster aging and a possibility of developing skin cancer.
The medical administration of UV rays can be beneficial to many patients suffering from eczema since they will more often be on medication. It also is important to remember that you are only treating the symptoms of the disease since eczema still has no cure.
How Sunlight Helps in Treating Eczema
Of course, sunlight can treat eczema because it contains UV rays. However, the actual reason why UV rays can treat eczema is still unknown.
Doctors believe that UV rays increase the levels of vitamin D in a patient’s body, and in this way, help to get rid of the symptoms of the disease. Sometimes, doctors even recommend the use of vitamin D supplements to control eczema.
An increase in the level of vitamin D in the body makes the body produce more cathelicidin, which is a protein that helps protect the skin against infections. It has also been noted that patients who have eczema have low levels of this protein, and therefore, gain a lot from the extra production.
As mentioned earlier, sunlight exposure should only be moderate. By getting sunburnt, you will be risking getting skin cancer, which is a far worse disease. Staying in the sun for too long can also result in a faster aging of your skin.
If you opt to use sunlight to treat your eczema, then you should avoid other medications that are meant for the condition as they can lead to damage of your skin. Ideally, you should consult your doctor before starting a UV light treatment.
Other Treatment Options for Eczema
Apart from the use of UV rays, there are other treatment options for patients of eczema. They include medications and natural remedies. Consult your doctor for more guidance on treating eczema.
The Link Between Sunlight and Eczema
The sun's effect on eczema has been in the study for a long time now. Some researchers believe that the sun is essential for the same reasons that it is for normal people without any condition. The main reason here is assumed to be vitamin D. The production of this vitamin is aided by the sun. Vitamin D is essential for the overall health of the skin, and the synthesis of the vitamin is enhanced when the skin is directly exposed to the sun. This information is something everyone has been reading right from school. However, the amount of exposure varies and on a case-to-case basis.
People with eczema are prone to skin infections, irritations, and other issues concerning the epidermis. It is evident that people who have eczema have sensitive skin. Thus, a moderate exposure to the sun is the safest thing to do. Too much sun exposure is very dangerous as it may lead to sunburns, rashes, itching, and irritation.
Moreover, topical steroids are a common prescription for those suffering from eczema. Thus, any exposure to the sun would mean using a protective shield against it. In this case, it is the sunscreen lotion. A thin layer of the lotion with the right SPF proves handy. Slip it into your purse or bag while leaving the house and apply another coat in a few hours, if the exposure is prolonged.
Assuming that a sunscreen works the whole day with similar effects causes more damage to most people’s skin. Ultraviolet therapy or radiation treatment is sometimes recommended to people with eczema, but it still depends on the individual's response to the treatment. What holds good for one person, may not hold good for another. Similarly, a natural therapy that works for one person may not function the same way on another. Therefore, try to understand your signs and symptoms first and then deal with them in the best possible way.
This skin condition is more common among children. Thus, extra precaution has to be observed. The child must be made to understand the issues around his condition and must be taught ways to deal with it. It is not a contagious condition, but if the sun is causing more harm than good, then it is best to avoid the sun. Get in touch with your doctor, so he can suggest alternative light therapies that are essential for the health of your skin. Furthermore, scratching, ignoring the symptoms, and continuing your sun exposure even though it’s not working for you, will only worsen the condition. Work and act in moderation. Do not ignore the follow-ups written down for you by your doctor. The treatment loop closes only after a thorough follow-up and investigation.