Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, impacts nearly 20 million people in the United States. While children are the largest group affected, it is not isolated to affecting only kids. Unfortunately, there is no cure for eczema. While there are a number of skin creams and prescription medications that can help minimize the symptoms of eczema, can sunlight provide relief as well?
Sunlight and Stress
There are a variety of theories about how sunlight can help eczema. One theory is that exposure to sunlight increases your production of Vitamin D, which can improve your mood and reduce stress. Since stress is a known trigger for atopic dermatitis, reducing stress through sunlight exposure can be beneficial.
Sunlight to Treat Eczema Lesions
A recent study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology discovered that UV light exposure triggered regulatory T cells – a special type of immune cell – that reduced the inflammatory response from eczema. While the study was small, it helped to clarify why sunlight can sometimes help improve an outbreak.
The Drawbacks of Sunlight Therapy for Eczema
Too much sunlight can actually trigger a more aggressive outbreak of eczema, so sunlight therapy is something that must be done with the guidance of a physician. And exposure to UV rays has other serious side effects. Not only can too much exposure age the skin, but it is also the leading cause of skin cancer. And sunburns aggravate eczema. In addition, becoming overheated or sweating a lot can trigger serious eczema outbreaks in both children and adults.
Should I Try Sunlight Therapy for My Eczema?
If you have tried prescription medication and creams and still struggle to get your eczema under control, you may want to speak to your physician or dermatologist about the possibility of sunlight or UV light treatment. You should not try this treatment without the guidance of your physician; nor should you stop any prescribed treatment without first having a conversation with your doctor.
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