Is it safe to use light therapy for eczema? This might be one of the questions comes into your mind when discussing the effectiveness of light therapy to treat eczema. To find the answer, you need to learn about various aspects often linked to this LED light treatment, including the benefits and risks.
A Little Bit about Eczema
Before going to further discussion about the use of light therapy to treat eczema, it will be better to know a bit about this skin issue first. Eczema can be avoided by applying adequate moisturizer on the skin. As an alternative, you can also use anti-inflammatory creams or ointments to avoid irritation caused by eczema. However, not all of the creams and ointments you can find in the market or prescribed by doctors can get rid of this skin problem. The symptoms do not relieve and the inflammatory effects are not completely reduced. If this is the case, medical professionals often suggest the patients to use light therapy to treat the issue. This is often seen as the best alternative, just second after natural sunlight, due to many good reasons. UV light which is artificially produced to treat eczema can be controlled for the safety of the patients. Additionally, artificial UV light can also be applied to the patients’ skin under tight supervision. In this way, any potential risks that might come with the therapy can be minimized.
Light Therapy – Overview
LED light treatment is also often known as phototherapy. This is a treatment process conducted to the skin by exposing the affected areas to UV light (ultraviolet light). The UV light applied to the skin can provide inflammatory response and trigger cell division. The treatment itself is usually conducted in a special room with fluorescent lamps. There will be an ultraviolet light therapy machine is prepared to produce artificial UV light. It will produce light of a certain frequency or wavelength to be applied to the patients’ skin. There are also lamps placed in the room that can be applied to treat individual parts of the patients’ bodies. They include hands, feet, and head. Most of the time, the patients are required to complete 2 to 6 sessions of therapy per week. However, the entire therapy session can last between one to three months. This usually depends on the results that the patients want to reach as well as the symptoms shown by eczema. Not only for eczema, but the LED light therapy can also be used to get rid of psoriasis. To make the skin gets used to the radiation given, the dose will be adjusted to the skin type of the patients. After that, the dose will be slowly increased when the patients’ skin is ready for that. Due to the advanced technology applied, LED treatment can be done fast. The therapy usually only takes a minute or two at first. It then will end up to several minutes toward the therapy’s end.
Different Types of Light Therapy
There are three main different types of light therapy for eczema. They are known as UVA phototherapy, broadband UVB phototherapy, and narrowband UVB phototherapy.
- UVA Phototherapy
UVA phototherapy uses type A ultraviolet light in the therapy session. To make the UVA light therapy effective to cure eczema, you also need to combine it with an oral medication called psoralen. It should be consumed an hour before the therapy session is started. The consumption of the medication is aimed to promote the sensitivity of the skin to the LED light treatment. The combination of UVA light and psoralen is called PUVA phototherapy. This treatment should be given to patients with eczema 2 or 3 times a week. Meanwhile, the overall session to treat eczema by using PUVA phototherapy will last for 12 to 15 weeks. Weekly maintenance treatments are usually conducted after the first phase of the therapy. However, you need to know that not all people can tolerate PUVA. This is because the therapy can cause patients to experience nausea.
- Broadband UVB Phototherapy
This UV light therapy for eczema uses type B of ultraviolet light. The use of this type of ultraviolet light has been used to treat various skin problems that can be traced back to the 1920s. This broadband UVB phototherapy requires the patients to stand in a lightbox. This should be done 3 times a week. Meanwhile, the overall session of the therapy can last for 20 to 30 times. The length of each therapy will be increased so that your skin will turn slightly pink. Just like the UVA phototherapy, weekly maintenance therapies will also be conducted after the first phase of the treatment.
- Narrowband UVB Phototherapy
Narrowband UVB phototherapy is the most popular treatment to cure eczema you can find today. The treatment gradually replaces both PUVA and UVB broadband since it is seen as more effective to help people with eczema symptoms. Additionally, this narrowband UVB phototherapy comes fewer risks if compared to the two previous treatments. It utilizes a very small part of the UVB spectrum. As a result, exposure to UV radiation can be reduced significantly. Not only safer, but this narrowband UVB phototherapy also requires treatment sessions with a shorter course.
Risks of LED Light Treatment for Eczema
Despite the huge benefits you can get from the LED light therapy to treat eczema, there are some risks of the treatment that you should be aware of.
- Skin Damage
The overtreatment by using UV light therapy can make skin goes freckled and wrinkled. Brown might form and the skin will look darker.
Artificial UV light resulted used in UV light therapy can cause blistering and sunburn. This will lead the patients to experience itch and redden on their skin.
- Skin Cancer
Though no proof associates UV light treatment with skin cancer, you still need to be careful. You need to keep in mind that one of the factors people to suffer from skin cancer is the prolonged exposure to UV light. So, make sure that are careful when using UV light therapy for eczema.