If you or someone you love suffers from psoriasis, you know how frustrating and embarrassing the condition can be. Finding the right treatment is no simple feat. The history of dermatological treatment is full of creams, ointments, and prescription drugs like anti-allergens. While these sometimes work, their effectiveness is limited, and they often come with unpleasant side effects. Researchers have been searching for alternative treatments for years, and recently, they’ve found a contender in an unlikely source: red light.
The origin of red-light therapy dates back to the early 1990s, when scientists developed it as a method for growing plants in space. Though it may not appear this way to the naked eye, red LEDs generate light that outshines the sun’s rays by almost 1000% percent.
Not long after these initial studies, scientists began to wonder if the benefits of red-light therapy could extend beyond plants. After all, the nutrients found in sunlight are also essential to humans and other animals.
Further studies focused on conditions specific to astronauts like bone density and muscle atrophy, but they later were expanded to test general skin conditions. Results have been extremely positive. These days, red light therapy is used to treat conditions like acne, stretch marks, wrinkles, scars, eczema, and cellulite. Some of the most promising results, however, have come in the form of red-light therapy for psoriasis.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a dermatological disease which creates inflamed red patches of scaly skin on those affected. It occurs most frequently on the elbows, knees and scalp. As the disease develops, affected skin sometimes cracks and bleeds, especially if left unmoisturized. It also causes itching, which can prompt a patient to scratch and pick away at it, furthering damage.
Psoriasis symptoms typically begin to appear starting in a patient’s late teens or early twenties, but they can occur at any age. Over eight million people suffer from the disease in the United States alone. Symptoms tend to occur in cycles, with sufferers alternating between severe and mild symptoms.
The specific cause of psoriasis is a matter of some debate, but most experts agree that it’s an autoimmune disease. In other words, your body believes its own tissues are harmful foreign invaders and attacks them.
Because psoriasis is so unsightly and uncomfortable, patients are often embarrassed and want to treat it as efficiently as possible. Unfortunately, there is no cure, and even when effectively treated, it usually returns. Common methods include topical therapy such as creams and ointments, but these tend to not be efficient for severe cases. Stronger creams called corticosteroids work better than over-the-counter products, but these tend to thin skin over time and must be used sparingly.
In some cases, your doctor might prescribe internal medicines like steroids or biologics. Steroids can be helpful for minor patches of psoriasis but are typically not effective against severe cases. Biologics also sometimes work wonders against psoriasis, but they must be used cautiously as they suppress a patient’s immune system and put them at risk of other diseases. Anyone who is immunocompromised is typically advised to steer clear of these drugs.
In many cases, though, harmful or risky drugs can be left off the table entirely. Light therapy has become a front-line treatment for psoriasis for some very important reasons. It’s noninvasive, does not harm skin when used moderately, and it preserves the integrity of a patient’s immune system. Most importantly, however, it works.
How Red-Light Therapy helps treat Psoriasis
During red light therapy, you or your doctor exposes your affected skin to a device which produces red light. In some cases these devices might be lamps or lasers, but red-light therapy saunas are also available to those who wish to combine red light treatment with the beneficial effects of a sauna. Cellular units called mitochondria, which produce power for the cell to use, absorb the light and convert it into energy. This extra energy promotes cellular repair and encourages healing in tissue. As cells heal, redness, itchiness, and inflammation can be greatly reduced. Most often, patients will need to return to their doctor or sauna periodically for repeated exposures in order to affect significant progress in their healing.
Red light therapy typically occurs between 630nm-640nm, but in some cases, infrared light up to 850nm has been shown to be effective. In addition, blue light between 405nm-420nm has also been shown to be effective in treatment. A landmark 2011 study demonstrated the effectiveness of both red and blue light on the symptoms of psoriasis. Twenty patients were treated twelve times over one month with one color or the other, with both colors producing positive results across the board.
Due to its lack of invasiveness or side effects, red light therapy is one of the best methods for treating psoriasis. Repeated peer-reviewed studies have backed up its effectiveness, and scientists learn more each year about potential new benefits for skin diseases and disorders.
Not everyone is able or willing to visit a doctor repeatedly to receive red light therapy, but if you suffer from psoriasis, there are ways to enjoy the benefits from the comfort of your own home. Sun Home Saunas offers a variety of options for red light therapy sauna enhancements, all of which channel specialized wavelengths and combine red light therapy with the beneficial and pleasant effects of saunas to provide the most pleasant way to treat your psoriasis.
Because psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, anything which promotes overall health also helps in the fight against flare ups. Saunas aren’t just pleasant, they also help reduce overall stress, flush toxins, promote better sleep, and aid in athletic performance. Not only can these effects improve your daily life, they can be key tools in fighting psoriasis.
Research also shows that using red light therapy in saunas (traditional or infrared) significantly enhances overall wellness benefits! If you think red light therapy saunas might be right for you, our experts are available to speak with you seven days a week. Contact us and start enjoying the benefits of red-light therapy today.