If you have eczema and are considering different ways to help your skin, one that might have come to your mind is if tanning can help eczema, either sun tanning or using tanning beds.
Yes, tanning does help eczema due to how it increases vitamin D production which in turn suppresses the activity of the immune system, which has been shown to be the cause of eczema in the first place.
Below we will go into this in more detail to give you the complete picture.
What is Eczema?
Before we consider more about how tanning can help eczema it’s important to first understand eczema.
Eczema is a condition that causes skin problems, namely very dry and itchy skin. It often starts in childhood. The causes sometimes point to sensitivity of external products and allergies which sometimes can make symptoms worse.
Also, there is some understanding that eczema symptoms are caused or worsened by immune response that is stronger than should be.
This causes stronger reactions to things like allergies, soaps, hormone changes and increasing inflammation. We will explain more why this is important when it comes to helping eczema with tanning below.
Does Tanning Help Eczema?
The main link how tanning can help eczema is due to UV exposure. Being exposed to the UV light causes the body to produce vitamin D naturally.
The increase in vitamin D in the body causes the immune system to be suppressed which in turn lowers or decreases inflammation in the body.
This is very important because eczema is caused by inflammation of the skin. So, when your vitamin D levels rise in your blood this suppresses your immune system which decreases inflammation and in turn should help or decrease your eczema symptoms.
There might be some confusion that the actual UV light helps the skin, but this is not the case. It’s the effect it has on increasing the vitamin D levels in your body which is what really helps.
A study has also confirmed that supplementation of vitamin D will also have a similar benefit as you might expect from tanning. That may be the better option particularly for people in the winter season where sunlight and the UV index is not as strong and effective.
Do Tanning Beds Help Eczema?
The same effect that is caused by the sun producing more vitamin D in your body also works on tanning beds for eczema. For more on this check our article – can you get vitamin D from a tanning bed.
This in turn suppresses your immune system and inflammation in your body which will help your eczema just like normal sunlight exposure.
A study confirmed that 2 tanning bed sessions per week was just as effective as 2 phototherapy sessions for controlling eczema symptoms.
How Long to Spend Tanning for Eczema?
The important first thing to note here is too be careful not to overexpose yourself.
If you spend too much time tanning in the sun or using tanning beds this could has a worse effect on your skin. That’s because it can cause the skin to dry out more and even become burned.
The secret to this is keep your tanning in moderation to help treat your eczema.
We recommend 20-30 minutes of suntanning to get the vitamin D you need for the day.
If you have darker skin you might need up to a couple of hours though typically up to 1 hour a day will be more than enough if you have darker skin.
If you are opting for tanning beds instead of sun tanning we recommend doing session it in moderation. We recommend starting with 5-minute sessions 2 times per week and building up gradually over time until a max of 10 minutes.
If your skin is pale you will not need as long as someone who has a darker complexion. This is because people with paler skin develop vitamin D more quickly than people with darker skin.
To give you more of an idea of timeframes depending on your skin check our article here – tanning bed time chart. Remember you won’t need as long as this chart suggests but up until the 2-week mark is more than sufficient for eczema treatment.