Dermatologists can be accused of having contradictory attitudes towards sun exposure. On the one hand, to prevent skin cancer we routinely advise against sun bathing, but on the other, we often treat common skin disorders like eczema (“atopic dermatitis“) or psoriasis with ultraviolet (UV) light. Now there is even reason to think that too little exposure to sunlight may be why allergic diseases, like atopic dermatitis, have become so much more common in recent years. What is going on with sunlight and the skin?
Unquestionably, sunburns damage the skin and promote the development of skin cancer. There is no known “safe” amount of sun exposure that does not produce the biochemical changes in skin which are linked to cancer. For this reason, dermatologists do not consider suntans to be healthy for the skin, either. Suntans, like freckles, are properly considered an injury response of the skin to excessive sun exposures. Hence, our general recommendation is to: cover up, use sunscreens on sun exposed areas and get your necessary vitamin D through diet and dietary supplements.
Yet, ultraviolet light therapy is a time honored and effective treatment for inflammatory skin conditions, like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Typically these treatments which use the sunburning, UV-B, portion of the sun spectrum are given in the physician’s office, to prevent over-dosage. The desired exposures are ‘sub-erythemogenic’, meaning they are below those that will produce skin redness or sunburn. [Read more…] about Dermatologists, Sun Bathing and Eczema