Approximately 31.6 million people (that’s 10.1 percent of the population) in the United States have some form of eczema.
Because of its prevalence, there are many different tools recommended to help eczema sufferers manage their condition. One of the most effective options, though, is red light therapy (also known as RLT or photobiomodulation).
Why is red light therapy good for eczema? Read on to find out everything you need to know.
What Is Eczema?
Eczema is an umbrella term for a group of skin conditions that cause dry skin, itchiness, inflammation, and rashes.
Types of Eczema
Eczema comes in several different forms, including the following:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Nummular eczema
- Stasis dermatitis
- Dyshidrotic eczema
Atopic dermatitis is the most well-known type of eczema. However, what all of these types have in common is inflammation, which occurs when the immune system is triggered by an allergen or irritant (food, environmental factors, etc.).
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is a therapeutic modality that uses red, low-level light wavelengths to address a variety of conditions, from eczema to wrinkles and scars. It can also be used to treat other health problems like arthritis and chronic pain.
Red light therapy was originally used in the early 1990s when NASA scientists were looking for ways to help plants grow successfully in space. Researchers found that the light from red light-emitting diodes (or LEDs) promoted better growth and plant cell photosynthesis.
These researchers later learned, too, that red light therapy strengthens the mitochondria and increases energy production. This, in turn, can improve the body’s natural healing and repair processes.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Eczema
There are lots of reasons to consider red light therapy for eczema management. Here are some of the most well-known benefits it has to offer:
Redness is one of the most common symptoms of eczema. It also has been shown to get better with regular red light therapy treatments.
One of the first human trials that analyzed red light therapy and eczema followed 81 patients for almost 1 year. The researchers found that after just one 2-minute treatment per week, redness improved dramatically in many of the study’s participants.
In the same study mentioned above, researchers also noted that eczema patients were far less itchy after receiving regular red light treatment, even in small doses.
These people reported less itchiness overall and also were less likely to scratch at or pick at their skin as a result. They had fewer thick, leathery patches (known as lichenification) after receiving red light therapy, too.
Red light therapy may be effective at combating itchiness, redness, and pain caused by eczema because it helps to minimize inflammation.
As was mentioned above, eczema is an inflammatory condition triggered by an immune response to an allergen or irritant. Red light therapy can help to minimize these responses and dampen inflammation overall.
These effects, in turn, help to prevent (or at least reduce the severity of) future outbreaks and flare-ups.
Fewer Skin Lesions
Additional research shows that red light therapy can be effective when combined with other eczema treatment methods, such as the use of immunosuppressive drugs and regular hot water baths.
A study from 2015, for example, showed that the combination of red light therapy and a hot bath helped to reduce inflammation and reduced the number of skin lesions that people with eczema developed. Their allergic reactions were suppressed, too.
Reduced Pain and Discomfort
Eczema can be quite painful, especially when it is left untreated to the point where skin lesions developed.
Red light therapy can help to reduce the pain one feels when dealing with an eczema outbreak, perhaps because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It can also help recipients to feel more relaxed and less stressed, which can produce additional pain-reducing benefits.
When eczema causes severe itchiness, it’s almost impossible for patients to not scratch at their skin. This can lead to skin lesions and, in some cases, scarring.
A study from 2017 revealed that red light therapy (in conjunction with the administration of curcumin) could help to reduce skin thickness and the number of dead cells that built up in the epidermis in those with eczema. These outcomes indicate that regular red light therapy treatments may help to minimize scarring.
Faster Skin Healing
Because red light therapy helps to support mitochondrial function and energy production, it makes sense that it can speed up the healing process. This can help those who are dealing with skin lesions to overcome them faster.
If people with eczema have existing scars, they may also find that red light therapy helps them to fade more quickly, too.
Red Light Therapy and Eczema: Who Should Use It
When it comes to using red light therapy for eczema management, some people are better fits than others. If you want to have a positive red light therapy and eczema “before and after” story, it’s important to make sure you’re a good candidate.
Those who have targeted eczema (on the hands, feet, etc.) often respond well to red light therapy. Red light therapy systems make it easy for them to address specific areas without having to expose their entire bodies to the light.
At the same time, people with widespread eczema can also stand or sit in front of large red light panels and address all the affected areas at one time. As a bonus, this saves them from having to use large amounts of creams or ointments all over their bodies, too, and can be more cost-effective.
Those who are taking certain medications may need to avoid red light therapy for eczema (or at least consult a physician before beginning treatments). This list includes photosensitizing medications (medications that cause sensitivity to light) like lithium, melatonin, and phenothiazine antipsychotics, as well as certain antibiotics.
Try Red Light Therapy for Eczema Today
Now that you know more about red light therapy for seborrheic dermatitis and other types of eczema, are you interested in giving it a try? If so, we’re here to help at Sun Home Saunas.
Check out our red light therapy products today to find a device that works best for you.