As a dermatologist, I find myself emphasizing sun protection because the risk of too much ultraviolet exposure, more often than not, outweighs the benefits. But those benefits should not be ignored. And I'm not just referring to the benefit of Vitamin D.
For decades, dermatologists have utilized various forms of ultraviolet (UV) to treat a variety of skin conditions. This is what is referred to as phototherapy. These ultraviolet therapies are provided to patients via artificial light sources, in a controlled fashion, over short intervals, and in combination with monitoring for side effects like redness, itching, burning, or worst-case scenario, skin cancers. Contrast this to the unsafe method of sunbathing or use of tanning beds to improve the appearance of the skin.
Common dermatologic conditions that improve with UV:
1. Psoriasis vulgaris - thickened, red, scaly, and itchy rash commonly found on the scalp, elbows, and knees; but, can occur anywhere on the body with face involvement more common in children
2. Acne vulgaris - acne lesions presenting as "white heads", "black heads", and inflamed pimples on the face, chest, and/or back in men and women of all ages; more common during puberty
3. Eczema - dry itchy skin that rashes
4. Chronic Urticaria - hives lasting more than 6 weeks; often with an unknown cause
5. Vitiligo - loss of pigment due to destruction of melanin producing cells (melanocytes - responsible for skin and hair color)
Contact a board-certified dermatologist to determine if phototherapy could be right for your schedule and skin condition. Happy #DermTipTuesday!