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Johns Hopkins Health - Shedding Light on Summer Eczema Management

Summer 2011
Issue No. 13

Shedding Light on Summer Eczema Management

Date: July 22, 2011

woman in sun hat

For most people with eczema (atopic dermatitis), summer brings a respite from skin sensitivity. For others, the season of sunshine and perspiration means flare-ups. “Sunlight actually serves as a trigger to make their disease worse,” says Ron Sweren, M.D., a dermatologist and director of the photomedicine unit at Johns Hopkins. On top of that, some sunscreens aggravate the condition, he says. Look for skin-sensitive sunblock. “Good skin care is good skin care ... whether it’s winter or summer,” Sweren says.

Because people perspire more in summer, they may bathe more, and frequent washing, with or without harsh soap, can worsen eczema, adds Sewon Kang, M.D., director of the Department of Dermatology. Adequate moisturizer is essential, he says. During any season, phototherapy—the use of light to treat skin disorders—may be an option for people who have eczema with severe itching.
Johns Hopkins is one of a few U.S. institutions to offer stand-up UVA1 treatment. UVA1 rays offer the skin-soothing benefits of sunlight, yet are less likely to cause sunburn. Because the patient is standing up, the entire body can be treated at one time.

“This light source seems to control itching quite well,” Kang says, “and can also help dissipate the rash of eczema.”

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