Does the sun make bad or good atopic skin? People with eczema often notice that in the summer the symptoms of dermatitis are receding, while in the winter they get worse. People believe that sun will irritate atopic skin, what does it actually do?
What is Atopic Dermatitis?
According to studies, on average, 20% of children and 8% of adults suffer from atopic dermatitis (atopy). It is a chronic skin condition characterized by inflammation, which occasionally recurs and the symptoms worsen. Factors that may trigger the onset of symptoms are common environmental allergens, such as mites, dust, pollen and various materials.
Atopic skin is red, itchy and scaly, with a dry plaque that flares. Although the exact causes of eczema have not yet been ascertained, it appears that the epidermis does not produce an antimicrobial substance, which naturally protects the skin from microbial infections. The result is skin becomes vulnerable and often gets infected.
Sun and eczema
Solar radiation can help people with atopic dermatitis or eczema. In particular, when people with eczema was exposed for a limited time in the sun, their skin produced substances which further activated immune system (T-lymphocytes) and reduced skin inflammation and intensity of the symptoms (itch, redness, etc.).
Vitamin D and atopic skin
In recent years, more and more studies have linked vitamin D with autoimmune diseases as well as eczema. In particular, low levels of vitamin D are associated with more severe atopy.
It has not yet been found in which way sun helps atopic dermatitis, however, a proposed mechanism is through the production of vitamin D. UV-B ultraviolet radiation results in the production of vitamin D by the skin cells. Increased levels of vitamin D, increase the production of cathelicidin, the natural antimicrobial substance of the skin, resulting in improved symptoms and a stronger skin barrier against germs.
Instructions for atopic skin and sun exposure
The sun’s benefit does not negate the need for sunscreen, as excessive exposure to the sun may have the exact opposite effect. Especially people using local steroid creams are at increased risk of burns. The protective effect of the sun is 15 minutes a day and includes:
- Limited sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm as sunlight is more intense at this time.
- Use protective clothing if you can not avoid intense radiation like a hat, sunglasses, long sleeve shirt and trousers. There are also special UV-protected clothes.
- Use of sunscreen suitable for sensitive atopic skins, with natural or chemical filters against UV rays.
What sunscreen to choose for atopic skin?
Certain sunscreens contain chemicals that can irritate the skin of those suffering from atopic dermatitis, as there is a reduced skin barrier, which may make it more sensitive to irritants.
Dermatologists often recommend sunscreens with natural filters, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which reflect UV radiation. However, even chemical filters are just as effective as there is no allergy to any of the ingredients.
People with eczema should also look for sunscreens that are hypoallergenic and provide broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB radiation. Solar protection with SPF 30 or higher is usually recommended.
Suggested options for children and/or adults with atopic skin/eczema that you can find at Vita4you are: