Light therapy is a lesser-known type of treatment in the medical world, but it can be used in many ways. From seasonal depression to treating cancer, here is a quick overview of light therapy and how it works.

What is Light Therapy?

Light therapy is a type of treatment that uses exposure to different frequencies of man-made light to treat and manage a wide array of conditions. For example, exposure light that mimics sunlight can help manage seasonal affective disorders, depression, and jet lag. Light similar to the sun can also help people adjust their sleep schedules to suit a night shift better, and they are even used in conjunction with blackout curtains in areas where the sun shines all day for half a year and the landscape is dark during the other half.

 

Light therapy can also treat skin conditions like eczema, vitiligo, Mycosis fungoides, and psoriasis by shutting down parts of the immune system that attack the skin and its pigments.

 

For people with cancer, light therapy is used alongside specific drugs in a process called photodynamic therapy. During treatment, patients are given photosensitizing agents (either as injections or directly over the skin). After a short while, cancer cells absorb the photosensitizing agents, and the affected areas are exposed to light. When light hits the photosensitizing agents, they release an oxygen molecule that can kill the cancer cells.

Where does UV Light Come Into Play?

Ultraviolet light is often seen as something hazardous, but it is required for light therapy to be effective. While scientists are still unsure how exactly light therapy can help patients suffering from various skin conditions, UV light can help reduce cell growth and dull the immune system. Doctors and specialists use controlled UV exposure to prevent patients from experiencing the effects of UVA and UVB rays, and sessions are always timed and take place in a controlled environment.

Light Therapy Tools

For light therapy, there aren’t many tools required-- just a medical UV lamp. Therapy lamps are devices patients can use at home for long-term light therapy or if sessions must occur daily. Therapy lamps run on electricity and must be plugged into an electrical outlet to work. Most stay on until turned off, but some lamps may also come with timers to shut off after a set amount of time.

 

When practicing light therapy at home, always read the directions on your therapy lamp before using it. Additionally, only use your therapy lamp for the specific amount of time your doctor recommends to avoid damage from prolonged exposure.

 

To learn more about light therapy and how it may help you, speak with your primary care physician. To browse UV lamps and other skincare items, visit Medical Supply Depot.

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