Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is simply using light to cure diseases. From late 90s to early 1930, light therapy was widely used to try and heal innumerable diseases. Ultimately, through research and controlled experimentation it was concluded that this method was not as effective in case of some diseases as others, its use was, therefore, limited. If not as many as before, many diseases are still being treated with the help of light therapy.
What is light therapy used for?
Light therapy is majorly being used to treat the following conditions. Due to its affects on the brain areas and chemicals related to sleep and mood, doctors have been using light therapy to ease symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) by using sun's light or an equal form of light for years now. The second category of diseases to make the most use of light therapy are skin diseases. For skin treatment purposes skin is exposed to certain wavelengths of polychromatic light at regular intervals as recommended by the dermatologist.
Skin conditions treated through light therapy
Skin diseases that require light therapy for cure or mitigation of symptoms include atopic dermatitis, acne vulgaris, psoriasis, vitiligo and skin cancer.
A small part of the skin or the whole body if needed is exposed to ultraviolet light for most skin diseases. Considering the risk UV light possess many have abandoned its use and instead are using other forms of light. Full body light therapy can be done at a registered clinic or even at home using a UVB booth that is large in size and high powered with consultation with your doctor or dermatologist.
Sleep and mood related disorders being treated through light therapy
The diseases that require light therapy are seasonal affective disorder (SAD), non-seasonal depression, circadian rhythm sleep disorders and jet lag, sleep disorder in Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies have shown light therapy to have a profound role in the healing process when used to treat psychological diseases. The time for therapy, type of light and wavelength is carefully selected by experts to suit the disease and the patient and varies from case to case.
Is light therapy safe to use?
Relatively safe and recommended by many doctors as an alternative to antidepressants, light therapy is immensely beneficial but does have risk of complications or side effects that must be borne in mind.
- Risk of skin cancer and skin damage when using UV light
- Damage to the eyes
- Photosensitive skin conditions
- Eye irritation
- Jitteriness or jumpiness when using light therapy to help with sleep disorders
- Eye strain or visual disturbances
- Feeling agitated
With home light therapy devices being widely used experts still recommend you consult your doctor before you carry the procedure at home.
It is important to mention here that light therapy can only soothe symptoms of most diseases and can not completely cure them. It can therefore be dangerous to adopt light therapy as a sole alternative to your conventional medical treatment. You must also discuss with your doctor if you plan on combining your conventional medical treatment and an alternative therapy.