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Skin Care and Diseases

Atopic Dermatitis and Sun Exposure

06/30/2011

Question:

How does the summer sun influence patches of atopic dermatitis located on the neck and shoulders?

Answer:

Ultraviolet rays in sunlight decrease the immune response of the skin; this is one of the reasons UV light causes skin cancer. For inflammatory skin disease, this can be a benefit as the immune response is the cause of inflammation.

Short exposures to UV light (without sunscreen) are very helpful for psoriasis on exposed skin; sunlight exposure is helpful to a lesser extent in atopic dermatitis because it is often associated with perspiration which increases itching in atopic patients. Sunlight is best used as treatment in cool weather. Attention to fabric in clothing is also important for atopic patients so that perspiration is not retained near the skin. Fabrics that wick moisture help.

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Response by:

Susan T Nedorost, MD Susan T Nedorost, MD
Associate Professor of Dermatology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University