Exposure to sunlight releases a compound from the skin that can alleviate symptoms of eczema.
Atopic eczema is a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked, and is usually a long-term issue.
However, relief may be in sight, as researchers from the University of Edinburgh have found that the chemical nitric oxide works to dampen inflammation and was found to be released after patients were exposed to Ultraviolet (UV) light, which mimics sunlight.
“Our findings suggest that nitric oxide has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and could offer an alternative drug target for people with eczema," lead researcher Dr. Anne Astier said. "Activating regulatory T cells using this pathway may also provide a target for developing treatments for other conditions with overactive immune responses, including autoimmune diseases and rejection of transplants.”
Patients who are suffering from severe eczema are often prescribed UV light therapy, which reduces inflammation of the skin and can help in various inflammatory skin disorders. However, the therapy can have side effects including burning, blisters, premature skin ageing and dry, itchy skin.
While soaking up some sun in your backyard is unlikely to impact eczema, researchers claim that the new findings may lead to some alternative light therapies.
Professor Richard Weller, a senior co-author, explained that academics will now be conducting further investigation into the topic.
“It is clear that the health benefits of sunlight stretch far beyond vitamin D and we are starting to fill in these blank spaces," he said.
The full study has been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
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