I’m sure all of the eczema sufferers out there have heard of phototherapy or light therapy from your doctor, research online, word of mouth, etc… The doctor’s typically recommend UV phototherapy for extreme eczema conditions. (I am UV phobic. I equate the darkening of my skin to premature aging, age spots, wrinkles, skin cancer, etc…) Light therapy has been used to treat a number of skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, jaundice, acne as well as sleep disorders and some psychiatric disorders. I wanted to find a natural, pain-free treatment that didn’t consist of taking pills or using some sort of steroid cream/ointment on my skin. During my research I discovered light therapy but I’m talking about a specific wavelength of light. The wavelength of light that I preferred and that I ended up doing a lot of research on was the Red LED light (660 nm). There are several wavelengths of visible light (400 – 700 nm; colors ranging from violet to red) but the 660 nm (red light) seems to be the most promising due to its safety, healing and light penetrating benefits. This particular wavelength of light contains no UV rays so it will not damage your skin. It kills bacteria on the skin and penetrates it enough to heal damaged skin cells; it does nothing to the healthy cells. After all the articles I’ve read about this particular wavelength I believed it would help me with my skin condition.
There are a lot of overpriced products out there that sell this particular wavelength or at least close to this wavelength for beauty enhancement or as an anti-aging product which I feel minimizes the credibility of this treatment. After watching an infomercial of one of these overpriced units it puts doubts in your head as to whether or not this product is legitimate. I do believe that because the Red LED light does heal damaged cells there is truth beneath the hype.
NASA initially discovered the benefits of the Red LED lights while doing research on plants and from there went on to discover that it helped patients suffering from cancer. I’ve attached links from the NASA website for your perusal.
Nasa News Release 2003
Nasa Spinoff 2005
I did not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a product that may or may not work. So, I found an alternative. I made my own. I bought a Red LED light bulb from Amazon.com (approx. $40). They sell the 660 nm wavelength I was looking for; make sure to purchase the bulb that includes free eye goggles (you want to use the goggles every time you do a treatment). (I would not recommend buying any light bulb with an infrared wavelength. God only knows what that would do to your skin.) What’s great about an LED light bulb is that it does not generate heat so there is no need for concern with burning your skin but you do not want to look at it directly because it may damage your eyes. I then bought an adjustable gooseneck lamp with a clamp base at Target ($12). The bulb screws right into the lamp perfectly. You might also want to buy an egg timer if you don’t have one already. It’s good to use the timer to time your treatment in case you fall asleep because I’ve done that on several occasions. Like I said before, it’s very therapeutic. (The instructions I’m about to give are instructions for using the treatment on my face because that is where I have eczema but you could use it for anywhere on your body as well.)
Before doing the therapy prep your skin:
1. I typically wash my face with a non-soap facial cleanser using a soft wet washcloth in circular motions to remove any dead skin cells so that there are no barriers between the light and my skin. That way the light can penetrate as deeply as it possibly can.
2. While my face is damp I rub oil evenly all over my face. I prefer either 100% Argan oil or coconut oil but some people like olive oil, vitamin E oil, etc… Use whatever makes you comfortable if not oil use a preferred moisturizer. I have tried the treatment without any oil on my skin; straight after washing and it was so uncomfortable that I had to stop mid-treatment to put oil on. I wait a few minutes for my skin to absorb the oil before continuing.
3. Wrap a scarf or towel around your neck to protect your thyroids. The light might cause issues with the thyroids although they have said that it doesn’t penetrate the skin deep enough to reach the thyroids but it’s better to be cautious.
Now there are several ways you can do the treatment once you are ready:
A. One way to do it is to clamp the lamp on to your bed’s headboard, lay down underneath it pointing the lamp towards your face a few inches away. Another way is to clamp it to a table and point the lamp towards your face a few inches away for a total of 15 minutes. If the light doesn’t encompass your whole face you might have to do one side of your face at a time. I prefer clamping it to my headboard and lying down with the light shining on my face. It’s the most comfortable position. (Don’t forget the goggles.)
B. Make sure you set the egg timer just in case. I’ve never gone beyond the 15 minutes. Leave it on too long and you might cancel any benefits that you may have achieved. You might also want to try to use it for 5 minutes the first few treatments if 15 minutes is too uncomfortable for the beginners.
Another way I like to use it is by laying the mouth of the lamp directly on my face and moving it to different areas every 5 minutes making sure I don’t use it in one area for too long.
You can use it every day or every other day or once a week, whatever works for you. I used it every day for about a week and a half but after the eczema had receded from most of my face I started using it every couple of days. I’m pretty much eczema free now. Knock on wood. Hopefully I can keep it at bay and will not relapse. My skin feels soft, smooth and looks absolutely fabulous, in my opinion.
You can customize your treatment to your own preference just remember the importance of protecting your eyes and thyroids. Below I’ve added a few more links to just some of the information I’ve read. There are tons of websites for the Red LED Light but you have to separate the adds/gimmicks from the real information. I really hope this helps you as much as it did me. As far as I can tell there are no negative side effects to using the Red LED Light as long as you use it correctly.
Wikipedia - Light Therapy
Ehow - Blue & Red Light Therapy
Heelspurs - LED Light Therapy