Light Therapy is a treatment option that uses UV light to treat itching and other skin symptoms that come with eczema. Exposing the skin to this type of light intends to suppress some of the skin/immune system cells that cause inflammation. As with almost any treatment, there are some potential downsides/side effects, but overall those who are living with eczema find that light therapy is an effective way to treat it.
In general, artificially produced light is becoming more of a popular treatment for eczema because it is easy to control and monitor (especially while under the supervision of a medical professional). Another positive is that light therapy is proving successful at not only treating eczema but a variety of conditions (to give you clearer and better-looking skin).
The Benefits of Using Light Therapy on Eczema
There are several benefits that people tend to report when it comes to light therapy treatment of eczema. As we begin to discuss these benefits, please keep in mind that it’s always recommended to talk with your doctor and do not abruptly stop your other treatments and/or medications without thorough research and consideration.
- Flexibility – One of the best benefits of light therapy is that it covers such a broad spectrum of symptoms and conditions. While a great deal of additional research needs to be performed, light therapy is showing promising results when it comes to treating chronic ailments. If you use light therapy properly, it can potentially provide a great deal of relief without subjecting you to an array of side effects (that tend to be common with other prescription medications).
- Safety – Light therapy is also generally very safe to use. It comes courtesy of low-level light… light that isn’t strong enough to cause damage to the skin but is strong enough to provide the intended benefits on a plethora of areas (mainly taking extra precautions when working around the eyes). As mentioned before, when performed under the supervision and care of a doctor, most people find that light therapy is an all-around safe & effective option.
- Pain-free – Light therapy should not cause any pain or require any sort of recovery time. There are many available treatments that you can use for your eczema that tend to cause pain and a good deal of discomfort as well. Fortunately, this is not the case when using light therapy to help you get relief. Light therapy treatment can be done in short sessions, and one of the only side effects tends to be a little tightness in the skin. Most patients notice relief (rather than pain) when they start to implement light therapy.
The Potential Negatives of Using Light Therapy on Eczema
While there are a lot of great benefits to using light therapy to treat your eczema, it is important to realize that there are a few risks that are associated with treatment. Some of the risks that you should consider and discuss with your doctor include:
- Burning – In some cases, artificial light, similar to what we see with natural sunlight, can cause some sunburn and blistering. You may notice that the skin reddens and itches if you use the light too long, but this is typically due to using incorrect products/usage. Those with lighter complexions are more lightly to burn and may struggle to use UV light therapy of any kind. Discuss this with your doctor before using light therapy for any condition if it is a concern.
- Skin damage – For those who are not careful with how much light therapy they use, there is always the potential for a little skin damage. The skin may also develop more freckles and become wrinkled with prolonged use.
- Skin cancer – There haven’t been any issues reported with skin cancer while using light therapy thus far (and in some cases, red light therapy is often used to help treat skin cancer), but this remains a relatively new therapy. In general, being exposed to UV light for too long can cause issues so it is something to watch for.
- PUVA – The medication that you may see used in tandem with light therapy can sometimes cause nausea and headaches for some people. Also, if you do not use adequate eye protection while using light therapy, this can potentially cause cataracts.
Overall, using light therapy is an effective way to treat eczema and many other conditions of the skin throughout the body. You can work with your doctor to determine exactly how long to keep the light on the area during treatment. This helps to ensure you receive all the benefits while limiting any negative side effects that we discussed above.
For most patients, about half an hour is plenty of time with light therapy. Depending on your medical condition, you may need to visit a specialist to do your treatments. There are also some at-home devices available that allow you to administer treatment in the comfort of your own home.
As many are aware, treating eczema is a difficult chore. There are treatments out there, but many of them are difficult to use and can make the itching and dry skin worse. While light therapy is still in its infancy, there is enough momentum for it to be considered as a possible form of relief.