Sunlight For Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)
July 07, 2001
Eczema, atopic dermatitis, is a common skin
disease that usually arises in childhood, runs a relapsing and
remitting course, frequently persists into adult life, and can
result in significant discomfort.
Emollients and topical steroids form the
basis of treatment, but response is often incomplete. Patients
with atopic eczema often report
improvement after sun exposure, and results from
a series of studies suggest that ultraviolet B (UVB; wavelength
280-315 nm), ultraviolet A (UVA; 315-400 nm), and combined
UVA-UVB are effective treatments.
Narrow-band ultraviolet B (UVB) is frequently
used for psoriasis, and open studies suggest that this phototherapy
might improve atopic eczema.
Previous studies have shown that high
dose UVA1 (340-400 nm) is as effective as moderately potent
topical steroids for acute, severe atopic eczema. However,
special irradiation devices, which are only available in specialist
centers, are needed for this type of treatment.
A narrow-band (311 nm) UVB fluorescent
lamp (TL01, Philips, Utrecht, Netherlands) has been developed
that is effective in the treatment of psoriasis. Results of
open, uncontrolled studies suggest that narrow-band UVB phototherapy
might improve chronic, severe adult atopic eczema.
The researchers provided 12 weeks of this
type of UV treatment for atopic dermatitis and noted
improvements disease activity seen during treatment
and were maintained 3 months after phototherapy had been stopped.
The type of UVA fluorescent lamp that
we used is typical of lamps available in most sunbeds in UK
and is widely used for psoralen photochemotherapy.
June 23, 2001; 357: 2012-16