According to a latest study, there may be new avenues for treatment of eczema, a common allergic condition of the skin. According to the researchers at the University of Edinburgh, on exposure to sunlight, the skin releases a compound that can ease the symptoms of this condition.
The study is published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Nitric oxide is released in the skin after exposure to sunlight and this molecule can help reduce the inflammation. This in turn leads to reduction of the itching symptoms that leads to such distress among the persons suffering from eczema. New treatments could be devised in such a way that they could mimic the effects of the sun on skin hope the researchers. As such light therapy can damage the skin but adapting the molecular mechanism may provide the benefit without cause harm they explain.
Eczema on the foot - Image Credit: Lapis2380 / Shutterstock
According to lead researchers Dr Anne Astier, nitric oxide has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and could be studied as an alternative drug target. For this study the team of researchers exposed some health volunteer participants to UV light, on a small patch of skin. On testing they noted presence of nitric oxide in their blood stream as a result of this exposure. Nitric oxide in turn was noted to activate some specialized immune cells called the regulatory T cells. These cells kill the hyperactive inflammatory responses that lead to the symptoms of eczema in the first place.
The team of researchers noted that after light therapy eczema patients had a marked increase in the number of regulatory T cells in their blood. This also correlated directly with the improvement of the eczema symptoms and disease improvement.
According to Prof Richard Weller, senior lecturer in dermatology at the University of Edinburgh, sunlight has more to offer than just Vitamin D and once these gaps are filled more could be understood about the health benefits of sun exposure. Eczema affects one in five children and once in 20 adults in the UK. Research in this area could help thousands of sufferers feel researchers.
Eczema is a skin condition characterized by chronic inflammation and frequent relapses. There are itchy red rashes over the affected areas that usually involve skin creases such as the folds of the elbows or behind the knees. Eczema affects 15-20% of school children and 2-10% of adults. Children are more affected than adults and nearly 80% of all cases are below five years of age.
Irritants from the environment and allergens such as those present in foods, chemicals or pollutants are common triggers to eczema. Typical symptoms include itching, dryness, fine scales or flaking with redness. The severity ranges from mild irritation that does not need medical treatment to severe relentless itching and scratching that leaves the skin raw and weeping secretions. Repeated episodes may leave the skin thickened and crusted. This more severe form of eczema is called atopic dermatitis.
Treatment is usually focused on keeping the skin hydrated adequately. Some may require a steroid cream with 1% hydrocortisone applied a few times a day over the area for relief. Medicines such as antihistamines and steroid creams may provide relief from itching. Steroids are anit-inflammatory preparations that can curb the inflammation and provide relief.