Eczema is a common skin condition characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. It affects millions of people worldwide and can have a significant impact on their quality of life. While there are many treatments available for eczema, some people are turning to tanning as a way to improve their symptoms. In this essay, we will explore the question of whether tanning helps eczema. We will examine the scientific evidence behind this claim and consider the potential risks and benefits of tanning for eczema sufferers.
What Is The Impact Of Sun Exposure And Tanning On Eczema?
Sun exposure can be both beneficial and harmful to individuals with eczema. While reduced UV-B exposure can lead to an increase in atopic dermatitis, sun exposure can worsen the symptoms of eczema in some people. On the other hand, sun exposure can alleviate symptoms of eczema in others and may benefit people with weeping or blistering patches of eczema.
However, excessive sun exposure can trigger an eczema flare-up or worsen existing flare-ups by causing inflammation, irritation, or dryness on the skin. Sun exposure can also make eczema itchier or more painful due to sweat and heat caused by fun in the sun. Furthermore, eczema sufferers are susceptible to sunburn, premature aging, and hyperpigmentation caused by excessive sun exposure.
Excessive sun exposure can even increase the risk of skin cancer for people with eczema. Thus, it is crucial for people with eczema to protect their skin from the sun by seeking shade, covering up, and wearing mineral sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30. Protective measures can help protect against sun damage, which may be more severe for eczema-prone skin, and prevent open sores resulting from scratching from contracting an infection.
Moderate sun exposure may neutralize harmful bacteria, fungi, or viruses on the skin or trigger the release of compounds that help dampen inflammation and alleviate symptoms of eczema. However, too much sun can make atopic dermatitis (eczema) worse.
How Does The Sun’s UV Rays Affect Eczema Symptoms?
Research has suggested that the sun’s UV rays may have an adverse effect on eczema symptoms. Frictional lichenoid dermatitis (FLE), a variant of eczema, has been linked to the ambient UV index and aggravation of symptoms in months with high UV index compared to winter months. FLE is more common in summer months when the clothing necessitates loose clothes with exposed extremities, and the effect of UV radiation in the causation of FLE can be explained by the tropical climate.
A study found that patients who were followed up had consistent aggravation in summer months, which suggests that sunlight and UV radiation may trigger and cause FLE. UVB light may also play an important role in FLE . Although spring aggravation reported in previous studies was not significant statistically, in a tropical setting, these months overlap with the predominant summer season.
Sunlight is one of the factors associated with frictional lichenoid dermatitis in children, which can worsen eczema symptoms. However, a larger cohort with meticulous follow-up may be needed to draw a final conclusion on the effect of UV radiation on eczema symptoms.
Potential Risks Associated With Sun Exposure And Eczema
Individuals with eczema face potential risks associated with sun exposure. While increased exposure to sunlight during summer months may improve eczema symptoms for some individuals, sun exposure can make eczema worse for others . Sun exposure can also cause overheating, which is a common trigger for eczema, leading to eczema flare-ups. Moreover, ultraviolet radiation poses risks such as skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Sun therapy may not be suitable for individuals whose eczema flares up when they are overheated or during summer months.
In addition, insufficient vitamin D due to lack of sunlight may increase the risk of eczema. On the other hand, lack of sunlight may affect eczema development. Thus, it is important for individuals with eczema to protect their skin from the sun to prevent worsening of symptoms and potential harm. While sun exposure can make an eczema flare worse, it is also true that too much sun exposure can also be a potential risk for individuas with eczema. Therefore, individuals with eczema should be cautious when spending time in the sun and take necessary measures to protect their skin from harmful UV radiation.
Alternatives To Sun Exposure For Eczema Management
Eczema is a chronic inflammatory condition that can be exacerbated by sun exposure. There are several alternative treatments available for eczema that do not require sun exposure. One such alternative treatment is to wear light-blocking clothing to help manage eczema without sun exposure. This clothing can prevent the penetration of harmful UV rays into the skin.
An additional alternative treatment is to shift activities to the evening and night to avoid direct sunlight during the day. Another alternative treatment is to use full-coverage, tinted make-up preparations on exposed skin surfaces to help manage eczema without sun exposure. It is also important to protect the cornea from UV radiation by using UV-blocking sunglasses, which are recommended in eczema management.
PUVA treatment (PUVA, photochemotherapy with psoralene + UV-A) is an alternative treatment that is indicated in the spring before the sunny times of the year. PUVA treatment does not require sun exposure and can help manage eczema without exacerbating it. In severe cases, systemic glucocorticoids can also be used as an alternative treatment for eczema management that does not require sun exposure. Symptomatic treatment of the hemorrhagic crusted blisters is done topically.
In general, both direct and indirect sunlight should be avoided in eczema management, as it can exacerbate symptoms. However, it is essential to note that a causal and effective treatment for eczema that does not require sun exposure is not yet known.
How Effective Are These Alternative Treatments?
Various alternative treatments have been explored for atopic dermatitis due to the limitations of steroid usage, leading to the need for “steroid sparing” treatments. Non-steroidal treatments, such as non-steroidal creams, have been shown to be significantly superior to both alternatives after ten treatments. Exposure to allergens and irritants has been associated with atopic dermatitis, leading to flare-ups and the use of agents as alternative treatments.
For those affected after unaccustomed sun exposure, such as in UVR-exacerbated atopic eczema, other treatments, including ultraviolet therapy, should be considered. However, class IV TCS should be avoided during pregnancy, although they are effective treatments. Novel options for targeted UV therapy include light emitting diodes and extracts with subsequent sunlight exposure.
Oral PUVA therapy has been suggested as an alternative treatment for atopic dermatitis unresponsive to other therapies. However, these new options are still under investigation and should only be used after other treatment options have been explored. Complementary alternative medicine has also gained interest as a treatment option for atopic dermatitis but can only treat localized and therapy-resistant cases. Lastly, systemic treatment options, such as cyclosporine and azathioprine, are the only options for difficult-to-treat atopic dermatitis.
In conclusion, while tanning may temporarily improve eczema symptoms, it is not a safe or effective long-term treatment option. Excessive exposure to UV radiation can damage the skin, increase the risk of skin cancer, and worsen eczema symptoms in some people. Therefore, eczema sufferers should focus on safer and more effective treatments, such as moisturizers, topical steroids, and immunomodulatory drugs. They should also make lifestyle changes to reduce their exposure to triggers and improve their overall health and wellbeing.
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