Does Eczema Get Worse In The Sun?

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As well we know that eczema is a chronic condition. It can come periodically and then subside, even experts say that it is incurable, but it is manageable condition. There are several factors that can trigger the flare-up and make it get worse. How about the exposure to the sun? Does this chronic skin condition get worse in the sun?

Eczema – how common is it?

This chronic inflammatory skin disorder usually appears as blisters that can crust over to become itchy, scaly rashes. It also can appear as thick, dry patches of skin that usually come with scales.

As mentioned before, the symptoms also can come and go since it can be a chronic condition. And like most things in the skin problem, itching (chronic itching) is usually the main symptom [1].

Though it can be bothersome and incurable, it is pretty common in some countries. In the U.S, about 15 million people have it. And in the U.K, it affects almost 5 million people (adults and children) every year, according to the National Eczema Society.

What are the trigger factors of the flare-ups?

In general, the goals of the treatment are to improve /reduce the symptoms, prevent the flare ups and skin damage, and also to heal the skin. And identifying the trigger factors is one of the major steps of treatment plan.

image_illustration115Each case can be unique, and the trigger factors can vary from sufferer to sufferer. These may include:

  1. Skin irritants, such as; synthetic fibers, soaps, wool, detergents, sand, dust, lanolin, cosmetics, or even perfumes.
  2. Certain chemicals, such as; solvents and chlorine.
  3. Exposure to smoke of smoking.
  4. Allergens such as; pet dander or pollen.
  5. Exposure to too high (hot) or too low (cold) temperature.
  6. Stress.
  7. Air pollution or traffic related pollution.

In some cases, food allergen such as gluten can be another trigger factor.

The link between eczema and sun exposure

The connection between both conditions is not fully understood. It seems that the effect of sunlight exposure may vary from person to person.

While some eczema sufferers report that the problem gets worse with the sun exposure, others don’t see a significant impact or even many sufferers say that their eczema improves with the appropriate sun exposure. So again, the effect may vary.

Does eczema improve with the sun exposure?

Yap, for many sufferers, their problem improves with judicious exposure to natural sunlight [2]. However, how much you get the exposure and the time of sunlight when you get exposure may play a key role.

The intensity of ultraviolet (UV) can vary throughout the day. Too much exposure of UV can be counterproductive for the entire health of your skin.

Therefore, the use of natural sunlight to help treat and improve eczema should be only with medical-grade ultraviolet light – consult more with a qualified dermatologist for more advice!

Furthermore, the intensity of UV is not the single issue you need to concern. Since too hot temperature also can be a trigger factor, it’s much better to not get a direct exposure in the sun between 11.00 AM to 02.00 PM (the range of time when the sun is usually strongest).

In addition, some sufferers find that their problem improves after taking climatotherapy (a kind of therapy that uses water (like the ocean) and sunlight).

One of popular places to explore this therapy is at the Dead Sea in Israel. Many eczema sufferers visit this place to get climatotherapy by swimming in the water and sitting in the sun.

The good news, some studies found that this therapy is effective to improve the problem. According to some clinical studies, many sufferers who had previous spent about 4 weeks or longer at the Dead Sea found that their 95 percent of their skin was cleared [1].

Unfortunately, like the effect of sunlight on eczema that can vary and is still not fully understood, the reason of why the exposure can improve the problem in many eczema sufferers is also unclear. However, some experts think if the sunlight does have a positive effect – the vitamin D from the sun may be the answer.

The absorption of vitamin D from the sunlight into the skin boosts the production of cathelicidin (a kind of protein). Many eczema sufferers have low cathelicidin. And cathelicidin is important for the health of the skin since it can help protect the skin against the infections of fungi, bacteria, or even viruses.

Does eczema get worse in the sun?

While many sufferers find that moderate exposure to sunlight is good to improve the problem, others find a worsening of the problem.

Even there are some types of eczema called photosensitive eczema that can be very sensitive to the sunlight [3].


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