Exposure to ultraviolet light is a topic of contention among many people, including dermatologists. Generally, direct exposure to UV light has been associated with an increased risk of skin cancer.
Unsurprisingly, facilities such as tanning beds are controversial. In fact, in some countries, the commercial use of tanning beds is prohibited due to what is seen as the tendency of such facilities to increase the risk of melanoma.
However, many patients with skin conditions such as Psoriasis, Acne, and Eczema swear by UV treatments such as phototherapy and tanning beds.
It is worthwhile noting that while controlled exposure to UV light may be beneficial, there may be some risks, just like with any other treatments.
Read on to learn more about tanning beds and Eczema.
The Link Between Eczema and Vitamin D
Some studies have found that Eczema patients may demonstrate low levels of Vitamin D. The same studies also found that one could increase vitamin D either through controlled exposure to UV light or intake of vitamin D supplements.
However, Eczema is a complex skin condition and just taking vitamin D supplements or increasing exposure to UV light will not automatically cure the condition.
Nevertheless, vitamin D does play an important role in boosting skin health. In particular, vitamin D3 sulfate obtained directly from the sun helps with immune system functions and interacts with numerous genes.
Vitamin D can help ease the symptoms of inflammatory conditions resulting from imbalances in the immune system and can minimize the risk of cancer.
Intake of vitamin D3 supplements can be helpful. However, these supplements do not contain the critical sulfate component to deliver the same effects of vitamin D obtained directly from the sun. Certain foods can also be a source of vitamin D3 but these sources are not enough.
Exposure to UV light is one of the most effective ways of acquiring vitamin D3 sulfate. Phototherapy and sunbeds are a controlled source of UV and some dermatologists recommend these methods for alleviating the symptoms of skin conditions such as Eczema.
Tanning and Eczema
Although tanning has received a bad rap in some circles with some claiming such exposure to UV light can increase the risk of cancer, many Eczema sufferers say they have experienced relief from controlled exposure to UV in the form of tanning beds, phototherapy, and basking under natural sunlight.
Tanning beds utilize UVA and UVB light and provide a controlled environment for UV exposure. Because these facilities have a timer, the user does not have to be exposed to excessive and potentially dangerous amounts of UV light.
By delivering UVA and UVB light, tanning beds attempt to mimic natural sunlight. The body absorbs and synthesizes both types of UV light to generate vitamin D3 sulfate, in the same way it synthesizes UV light from natural sunlight.
The manufactured vitamin D3 sulfate in the body helps to boost the immune system, improve other bodily functions, and alleviate the symptoms of Eczema and other such inflammatory diseases.
Due to the success that many Eczema patients have had with tanning beds, dermatologists and alternative medicine practitioners are increasingly recommending tanning as a way to ease the symptoms of Eczema.
The greatest benefit of tanning beds for Eczema is that these facilities are controlled so there is a low risk of overexposure to UV light.
Secondly, tannings beds can deliver a better-looking tan compared to other tanning methods.
Lastly, tanning sessions are quite affordable compared to in-office phototherapy sessions.
However, although tanning beds use both UVB and UVA light, there is no way to control the amount of the specific amount of light delivered—the only thing that can be controlled is the duration of time you can lie in the bed.
Risks of Tanning
It is worth noting that prolonged exposure to UV light can increase the risk of skin cancer.
In one study, researchers found an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma in patients who have used a tanning bed compared to those who had never used such a facility.
Age can also increase the risk of skin cancer from the use of tanning beds. Studies show that those who have ever tanned before age 35 years had a higher risk of developing skin cancer than those who had never been exposed to artificial UV light.
Women who began using tanning beds while in high school and throughout college were found to have a higher risk of developing melanoma than those who had never used tanning beds.
Frequency Of Use
Researchers have found that the risk of developing skin cancer increased with frequency of use. For example, the risk of skin cancer was just 34% for study participants who had used tanning beds just 10 times. The risk increased to 272% for those who had used a tanning bed more than 100 times.
Although there is strong evidence supporting the link between the increased risk of skin cancer and the use of tanning beds, researchers note that some of these associations are not always causal.
This means that other factors may increase the risk of cancer in an individual who uses tanning beds. The use of tanning beds does not automatically cause melanoma and other types of skin cancer.
For many patients, the symptoms of Eczema can worsen during winter. Anecdotal evidence of the healing effects of sunlight has led some doctors and naturopaths to recommend controlled UV exposure to alleviate the symptoms of Eczema.
The truth is, there is no definite answer as to whether tanning beds help with Eczema. Different patients realize different results but many Eczema sufferers continue to report positive reports.
Whether you opt to use a tanning bed or busk under natural sunlight, what is important is to do it in moderation.
Bear in mind that tanning beds were not built for the treatment of Eczema but some patients may benefit from timed exposure to UVA and UVB light, which can help boost skin health.
To be sure, speak to your doctor or dermatologist before using tanning beds for the treatment of Eczema or if you suffer from any other inflammatory skin condition.