Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is a treatment that involves exposing the skin to specific wavelengths of light to alleviate certain medical conditions. This type of therapy is most commonly used to treat skin disorders, such as eczema and psoriasis, but it has also been found to be effective in treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that occurs during the winter months when there is less natural sunlight.
The mechanism by which light therapy works is not entirely understood, but it is believed that certain wavelengths of light can interact with specific molecules in the skin, which in turn can stimulate the production of certain chemicals in the body. For example, exposure to blue light has been found to suppress the production of the inflammatory compound called cytokines, which are known to play a role in the development of eczema and psoriasis.
One of the most popular forms of light therapy is narrow-band ultraviolet B (UVB) light therapy, which is used to treat skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis and vitiligo. This type of therapy involves exposing the skin to UVB light using a light box or a handheld device called a UVB lamp. The treatment typically takes place several times per week for several weeks, and it is usually administered by a healthcare professional.
Another popular form of light therapy is the blue-light therapy which is used to treat seasonal affective disorder. The therapy is usually administered using a light box which emits blue light. The patient is usually seated in front of the light box for 30 minutes to 1 hour per day. The blue light is thought to mimic the effects of natural daylight and affect certain hormones in the brain to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Light therapy also can be used in combination with other treatment such as medication, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy for treating SAD or even insomnia.
It is important to note that light therapy should always be administered under the supervision of a healthcare professional, as there are certain risks and side effects associated with the treatment. For example, exposure to UV light can increase the risk of skin cancer, so it is important to use protective eyewear and to avoid excessive exposure to the light. Additionally, some people may experience side effects such as eye strain, headaches, and nausea after undergoing light therapy.
In conclusion, light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can effectively alleviate certain medical conditions, such as skin disorders and seasonal affective disorder. By exposing the skin or eyes to specific wavelengths of light, it can stimulate the production of certain chemicals in the body. However, it is important to always use light therapy under the supervision of a healthcare professional and be aware of the possible risks and side effects.