Sunlight For Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis)

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.

Lancet June 23, 2001; 357: 2012-16

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

I thought that this was an important piece of science that documented the value of UV light, which is a normal part of sunlight that most people avoid like the plague, as they believe it causes cancer.

However, We need sunshine to stay healthy. If we don't get a regular dose of sunshine our health will suffer. I am fully convinced that the reason most of us get sick more in the winter is that our sunshine exposure is decreased. One should not have excessive exposure, however, as that is dangerous.

One should be outside for one hour a day, if at all possible. There are 1500 wavelengths of light that will hit your retina and supply you with an essential component of staying healthy.

Now, I don't want people to believe that I am advocating sunlight or UV treatments as the exclusive treatment for eczema. I have taken care of many infants with severe eczema. Some of them have have been quite severe and been to the top pediatric hospitals in Chicago without relief. They were basically one bleeding rash from head to toe.

We have been able to help the vast majority of these infants with a simple strategy. Most of the improvement is related to cleaning up the diet and optimizing essential fatty acids.

Following the food choice program and supplementing with large amounts of a high quality evening primrose oil and a teaspoon of cod liver oil per day seems to help most of these severely affected children.

Related Articles:

Tanning Beds Increase Cancer Threat

UV Light Linked to Skin Cancer or Is it?

New Research Into Chronic, Itchey Skin (Eczema)

Sunscreens May Not Prevent Melanoma


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