The Pros and Cons of Eczema Light Therapy

Everyone who has experienced eczema understands how crippling the condition can be. Eczema has a significant negative influence on a person's quality of life, causing chronic itching, visible body rashes, and sleep disruption. It even affects relationships. Topical therapies don't always work for all eczema patients, while some may use moisturizers and corticosteroid creams to help prevent and soothe flare-ups. Here, light therapy may be useful.

What is the lowdown of Eczema Light Therapy?

Eczema UV radiation is used in this treatment. It is also known as phototherapy, to soothe eczema-related skin rash and irritation. UV radiation exposure reduces the inflammatory effects of hyperactive skin immune cells. This treatment is anti-inflammatory. It works by chasing away the white blood cells that cause inflammation.

In addition to smoothing the lesions, light therapy also reduces skin thickness.

Who May Benefit from Light Therapy?

While moisturizers and corticosteroids are typically stepping one in treating eczema, light therapy may be an alternative for someone who doesn't want to take an injection-required drug, doesn't like needles, or doesn't want the side effects of a systemic treatment, which affects the entire body. For instance, the drug methotrexate, which is administered intravenously or orally, is used to help treat severe cases of skin problems. But, you cannot take it if you have liver illness, consume alcohol, are pregnant, or are nursing a baby.

Because dermatologists can isolate the affected areas with light, light therapy is effective for persons with localized eczema, such as on their hands or feet.

Also, it can be beneficial for someone who has eczema from head to toe.

It effectively treats extensive eczema and eliminates the need to cover a substantial portion of the body in prescription creams and ointments.

It is regarded as a kid-friendly form of treatment. There is no minimum age requirement; instead, the youngster must be old enough to stand on their own. Infants are not offered eczema light treatment. It's a good choice for expectant mothers.

Be aware that sunbathing all day is not the same as light treatment for eczema. Although UV radiation produced artificially is the best for treating eczema since it can be controlled and administered under supervision, natural sunlight can assist in relieving eczema symptoms. Using tanning beds is not the same as going the medical way because the medical light boxes block out some UV wavelengths, making this therapy the safer choice.

How Eczema Light Therapy helps in treating Eczema?

In the past, doctors employed three different forms of phototherapy for eczema, but today just one is effective. Broadband UVB and PUVA have mostly been superseded by narrowband UVB, which is now the most widely used type of phototherapy. As it is safe and efficient, narrowband UVB might be the best.

PUVA Light Therapy

The term PUVA stands for psoralen plus UVA and refers to the use of UVA wavelength light by an experienced doctor. The oral medication psoralen must be taken one hour before the treatment for it to be effective. Because psoralen causes some people to feel queasy, some cannot tolerate PUVA. Several significant dangers associated with UVA light treatment exist. Because of the risk of skin cancer, we utilize this treatment much less frequently. Instead of treating eczema, this method is used for curing psoriasis.

Narrowband UVB Light Therapy

Narrowband UVB reduces exposure to UV radiation by utilizing a small portion of the UVB spectrum. It makes it more desirable than wideband UVB, which also penetrates the skin less effectively. Regarding safety and effectiveness, narrowband UVB light is the "gold standard" of light therapy for treating this skin condition.

What can people expect from Eczema Light Therapy?

For several weeks to months, patients often attend two or three light treatment appointments per week. The procedure, which might take a few seconds to a few minutes, involves moisturizing your skin before standing in a light box while only wearing your underpants and safety goggles to protect your eyes.

While using light therapy to treat eczema may seem like a straightforward solution, it has certain disadvantages.

What are the disadvantages of Eczema Light Therapy?

The cost of eczema light therapy may be a drawback. Each time you obtain treatment as an insured patient there can be a cost and deductible to take into account. Another potential negative is that it takes a lot of time and necessitates numerous trips to the doctor over several weeks.

It can be too much of a time commitment for you if you drive 30 minutes to your doctor's office, wait for your appointment, take off your clothes, stand in the booth, then put your clothes back on and drive home. That might be convenient if you live close to your doctor's office, but if not, it might be too challenging to do this several times a week.

The following issues may also be eczema phototherapy drawbacks −

Burning − Similar to natural sunlight, artificial UV light can cause painful sunburn and even blisters. The skin may itch and turn red. Phototherapy seldom causes side effects, and when it does, they usually disappear rapidly. Light-skinned people are more likely to burn, thus dosage needs to be adjusted correspondingly.

Skin Injury − Age spots and other aging indicators like wrinkles may develop over time.

Skin Cancer − Skin cancer is linked to the older phototherapy technique, PUVA. Although there is no evidence to support the theory that narrowband UVB causes skin cancer, it is still vital to restrict exposure to this radiation as much as you can. Separately, it has been demonstrated that indoor tanning raises the risk of skin cancer and is not a substitute for phototherapy.

Various Effectiveness − While some people may benefit from light therapy, it may not be appropriate for everyone, especially those with severe skin conditions. This disease is ineligible, and extremely thick lesions are less effective. Systemic biologic or oral medications may be required in extreme circumstances, at least initially.


Despite the possible risks, moderate to severe eczema can be effectively treated with UV light therapy if it is well managed and the right safety measures are implemented. Ask your dermatologist if eczema light therapy might be effective for you.

Updated on: 03-Apr-2023


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