Advancements in biology and technology are always pushing the envelope of healthcare and medical treatments. Sunlight therapy is one such advancement that is proving to be quite helpful for a variety of medical conditions, including psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a common condition that affects about 7.4 million American adults.
Let’s discuss how sunlight therapy can help improve psoriasis symptoms, how it is performed, and more.
What Is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes red, scaly patches to form on the skin. They typically appear on your scalp, elbows, lower back, and knees, but they can form on any part of your body.
While the exact cause of psoriasis is unknown, most researchers believe that it is caused by an overactive immune system, which leads to an increase in the production of skin cells. The most common contributing factors that cause psoriasis include:
● Excessive alcohol consumption
● Hormonal changes (particularly in women)
● Cuts, scrapes, sunburn, and insect bites on skin
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, there are various treatments available that can help manage the symptoms of psoriasis.
One of these treatments is sunlight therapy.
What Is Sunlight Therapy?
Sunlight therapy is a form of phototherapy, which involves exposing your skin to ultraviolet (UV) light.
Since our sun radiates ultraviolet rays, UV light is present in natural sunlight. UV light can penetrate the skin and interact with your skin cells in various ways. Most notably, UV light can help your skin produce more vitamin D, which is important for overall skin health and to regulate your immune system.
It can also help reduce skin inflammation, which is a common symptom of psoriasis patches on your skin.
Sunlight therapy is usually performed under the supervision of a healthcare professional, such as an expert virtual doctor, so they can monitor your progress and adjust the treatment as necessary.
There are two types of UV light that are commonly used in sunlight therapy: UVB and UVA. These types of UV light differ in their wavelengths. UVA is between the wavelength range 315-400 nm, whereas UVB is between 280-315 nm.
There is another band of UV light called UVC, which is between 100-280 nm, but this band of UV light is not used in phototherapy because it is harmful for the skin and eyes.
UVB light is the most commonly used type of UV light in sunlight therapy and it is effective in treating psoriasis. UVA light is less commonly used, but can be effective in combination with a medication called psoralen.
It is also important to note that UVA makes up 95 percent of all the ultraviolet radiation from natural sunlight.
How Does Sunlight Therapy Help Improve Psoriasis Symptoms?
One of the ways that sunlight therapy helps to improve psoriasis symptoms, as mentioned earlier, is by reducing inflammation. Since psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition, exposure to ultraviolet light can help.
It reduces the inflammation in the affected areas of the skin by suppressing your immune system. This can help to reduce the redness and swelling on your skin that is caused by psoriasis.
Another way that sunlight therapy helps improve psoriasis symptoms is by slowing down the production of skin cells. When you have psoriasis, your body produces skin cells at a much faster rate than normal, which leads to the formation of those thick, scaly patches on the skin.
Since UV light can slow down the production of skin cells, it can help reduce the thickness and scaling of your psoriasis patches.
How Is Sunlight Therapy Performed?
Sunlight therapy can be done in several ways. However, it is usually done in a controlled environment, such as a phototherapy unit or a doctor’s office. This allows the your healthcare professional to monitor progress and adjust the treatment as necessary.
The amount of ultraviolet light used in your treatment will depend on the severity of your psoriasis and your skin type. Your healthcare professional will also monitor you for any side effects of prolonged UV exposure, such as skin irritation or sunburn.
Another way is to expose the affected skin to natural sunlight for a short period each day. However, this method can be difficult to control and may increase the risk of skin damage if performed incorrectly.
Another options is to use an artificial light source, such as a light box, which emits UV light. This method allows for more control over the amount and intensity of the UV light exposure.
These forms of sunlight therapy can also be done at home, but you should only consider such self-treatment options if your healthcare professional or expert virtual doctor recommends them.
Apart from sunlight therapy, there are other forms of phototherapy that can be used to treat psoriasis symptoms.
● Narrowband UVB Therapy
A specific wavelength of UV light (UVB) is used to target the affected areas of your skin.
● PUVA Therapy
You take a medication (psoralen) that makes your skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light, before undergoing a type of phototherapy that typically uses UVA radiation.
These phototherapy treatments are also typically done under the supervision of a healthcare professional or expert virtual doctor.
It is important to note that sunlight therapy should be used with caution, as excessive exposure to UV light can increase the risk of skin cancer.
Patients undergoing sunlight therapy should protect their skin from the sun when not undergoing treatment, and should follow the recommendations of their healthcare professional or an expert virtual doctor.
Despite being incurable, psoriasis is a condition that can be managed effectively with the right plan. Sunlight therapy, phototherapy, and other forms of treatments can help you reduce skin inflammation, skin cell production, and regulate your immune system.
If you are diagnosed with psoriasis or experiencing its symptoms, it is important seek medical attention, so your healthcare professional or virtual doctor can provide you with appropriate treatment.
A virtual doctor’s appointments is a convenient and cost-effective way for most people to get guidance and advice on psoriasis from a healthcare professionalespecially if you are not on a healthcare plan or do not have comprehensive health insurance.
Expert virtual doctors can give professional medical advice for your psriasis from the comfort of your home, and at a fraction of the cost of a typical doctor’s visit.