Atopic dermatitis, more commonly known as eczema, is a highly irritating skin condition. One that causes skin to become dry, itchy and in many cases, cracked and sore.
While it can occur all over the body, eczema is most common on the hands, insides of elbows and the backs of knees. If severe, eczema can be extremely painful and even debilitating for the sufferer. In this blog we will discuss the main symptoms of eczema and how exactly UVB can help alleviate these.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a skin condition that causes the skin to become dry and itchy, causing red, raised patches. This therefore weakens your skins barrier function, which is what helps it retain moisture and protects it from external elements – like the weather.
It can affect people of any age, often first appearing in childhood. Flare ups can also be triggered by things in the environment. Eczema is the name for a group of skin conditions that cause dry, irritated skin.
Other types of eczema include:
- discoid eczema – a type of eczema that occurs in circular or oval patches on the skin
- contact dermatitis – a type of eczema that occurs when the body comes into contact with a particular substance
- varicose eczema – a type of eczema that most often affects the lower legs and is caused by problems with the flow of blood through the leg veins
- seborrhoeic eczema – a type of eczema where red, scaly patches develop on the sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears and scalp
- dyshidrotic eczema (pompholyx) – a type of eczema that causes tiny blisters to erupt across the palms of the hands
What are the Main Symptoms?
The main symptoms of eczema include:
- Dry skin
- Itchy skin
- Flaky, Scaly or crusty skin
- Thick, leathery patches of skin
The severity can vary from person to person. Mild eczema may cause small areas of dry skin that are occasionally itchy. However, in more severe cases, the sufferer can have inflamed skin all over the body with constant itching.
Scratching eczema is likely to cause it to bleed and unfortunately, can lead to infections. It’s important to look out for signs of an infection. There’s more information on the NHS Website.
How does UVB Help Alleviate Eczema Symptoms?
Firstly you can find out more about what UVB is by reading our blog post “What is UVB?”.
UVB is present in natural sunlight and is an effective treatment for eczema. By exposing your skin to an artificial source of UVB for a set length of time and on a consistent schedule, you can drastically reduce your eczema symptoms.
How does it work?
UVB Light Therapy works by suppressing overactive skin immune system cells that cause inflammation, according to Elizabeth H, Page, MD.
It is effectively ‘anti-inflammatory’. Another benefit is that it smoothes the lesions, decreasing skin thickening, another common symptom of eczema.
Narrowband UVB Light Therapy
As most of us know, over exposure to UV radiation can be harmful. That’s where Narrowband UVB Light Therapy is beneficial as it uses a small part of the UVB spectrum. Thus, cutting down your exposure.
In fact, a review published in 2019 in Expert Review of Clinical Immunology referred to narrowband UVB light as the “gold standard” of light therapy treatment for eczema.
The symptoms of Vitiligo can also be treated using UVB light therapy, these include:
- Patchy loss of skin color, which usually first appears on the hands, face, and areas around body openings and the genitals.
- Premature whitening or graying of the hair on your scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows or beard.
- Loss of color in the tissues that line the inside of the mouth and nose (mucous membranes)