How does Tanning Help Psoriasis - Everything you Need to Know
Psoriasis is a skin condition that results from an auto-immune disease in which too many skin cells are produced in the system. These extra cells accumulate on the skin surface, causing red welts that appear as raised, thick, silvery scales on different parts of the body. These welts are itchy and painful as well. A number of topical applications and oral medicines are prescribed to relieve the condition. However, one effective natural form of treatment is light therapy. Although there are different forms of light therapies available for psoriasis treatment, including PUVA, laser and UVB, many patients use tanning from sun or tanning bed as an effective treatment for psoriasis as well. Read this oneHOWTO article to find out in detail how does tanning help psoriasis.
UVA and UVB for psoriasis
So how does tanning help psoriasis when you are prescribed phototherapy by your doctor?Tanning uses synthetic or natural sunlight to treat and relieve psoriasis. Your skin absorbs ultraviolet rays as you get the tan outside or in a tanning bed. The Sun has ultraviolet rays made up of UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays can effectively treat the symptoms of psoriasis, as they work by slowing down the rapid growth and shedding rate of your skin. But some doctors choose UVA instead of UVB, as UVA are shorter and penetrate into the skin deeply. This kind of tanning treatment can be effective in treating moderate psoriasis condition. If tanning with UVA alone is not successful in treating it, then PUVA therapy (Photochemotherapy of psoriasis) remains the best option.
Difference between types of UV phototherapy
- UVA treatment: It is effective with chronic cases of psoriasis, as it penetrates the skin more deeply than any other type of phototherapy. It is also useful in cases of dermatitis and other skin conditions. However, this treatment may reactivate herpes simplex if the patient has had this disease in the past and can cause agining and an increased risk of cancer development.
- PUVA treatment: According to a study published in 2004 on Europe PMC, PUVA phototherapy is the most effective when treating psoriasis. PUVA baths administered by medical professionals and have no gastrointestinal side effects and is considered to achieve faster results. Water baths hyperthermia combined with phototherapy can reduce pruitus and swelling of the patient, which is why it's the most recommended treatment. The treatment offers visible results after the third and fourth treatment
- UVB treatment: In this case, for effective remission, narrow-band UVB therapy is recommended rather than broad-band for psoriasis. This treatment will effectively deplete T cells from psoriatic lesions. however, several studies have shown that it can in fact cause inflammation and irritation of the skin. However, certain spectrums (313-nm) of UVB machines can have therapeutic benefits on a small scale.
Tanning from natural sunlight
If you are tanning your skin with natural sunlight, you should take care not to get sunburn in the end. Even if you are going out to soak your skin up in the sunlight, you should still not forget to apply your sunscreen. Apply the sunscreen on all unaffected areas of your skin, and don’t forget to wear sunglasses. Go out when the sun is at its peak heat. Do not stay outside for more than 10 minutes, otherwise you may end up damaging your skin with sun. Start with 10 minutes, and increase the period of 30 seconds every day, as long as your skin can comfortably tolerate it. The natural sunlight will not only help in clearing psoriasis symptoms, but will also allow you to body to produce more of vitamin D.
Added advantage of vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient to reduce inflammation in any part of your body. When combined with UV rays from sunlight, vitamin D can work wonders to clear psoriasis plaques. When your body is exposed to sunlight, it is triggered to produce more of this vitamin, thereby gaining benefits of improved immunity and stronger bones. Patients suffering from psoriasis are found to have low levels of vitamin D in their body, especially in winter season. So, by exposing your body to sunlight, you can compensate for the lack of vitamin D in your body as well. As vitamin D is naturally found in some foods as well, consume more of fortified milk, yogurt, orange juice, salmon, tuna, egg yolk, Swiss cheese etc. For more information on the subject, take a look at our article on what to eat if you have psoriasis.
Risks associated with tanning beds for psoriasis
When you undergo light therapy under the supervision of an expert, he is responsible for monitoring how much light is entering your body. Light therapy is specifically designed to cure your psoriasis and not cause any side effects. But when you expose yourself to sunlight or tanning bed, there is no one to monitor your exposure, and you may end up with several side effects and even worsening your condition. The National Psoriasis Foundation discourages the use of commercial tanning beds as it does not ensure that the wavelengths used are safe for the patient's skin.
Light therapy is targeted to only the affected areas of your body, but sunlight or a tanning bed applies excessive heat and light to your entire body. As a result, this increases your risk of developing skin cancer and other skin conditions. Excessive exposure to ultraviolet light can make your skin look older and leathery. So, if you are sure how much tanning you should get, and if you can control your exposure, then tanning can prove to be your ultimate treatment for psoriasis.
This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.
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- Wolff, Klaus. "Photochemotherapy of psoriasis (PUVA)." Research in Photobiology. Springer US, 1977. 409-417.
- Carlin, Christopher S., Kristina P. Callis, and Gerald G. Krueger. "Efficacy of acitretin and commercial tanning bed therapy for psoriasis." Archives of Dermatology 139.4 (2003): 436-442.
- Vallat, Val Pierre, et al. "PUVA bath therapy strongly suppresses immunological and epidermal activation in psoriasis: a possible cellular basis for remittive therapy." Journal of Experimental Medicine 180.1 (1994): 283-296.
- Piskin, G., et al. "Clinical improvement in chronic plaque‐type psoriasis lesions after narrow‐band UVB therapy is accompanied by a decrease in the expression of IFN‐γ inducers–IL‐12, IL‐18 and IL‐23." Experimental dermatology 13.12 (2004): 764-772.