Light therapy is also referred to as heliotherapy or phototherapy and consists of exposure to light in many different forms and for treating a variety of different ailments.
Various sources of light such as fluorescent lamps, LED (light emitting diodes), bright, full spectrum lights, dichroic lamps, lasers and so on are used to administer light therapy.
While light therapy is an obvious choice for treating sleep disorders related to the circadian rhythm such as Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome as well as others such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, light therapy also is able to resolve other physical ailments.
Light therapy for skin problems
One of the most common uses of light therapy or phototherapy is to treat the skin condition called psoriasis.
Since this is an immune disorder, ultraviolet rays are used to suppress the immune reaction of the body and to suppress the skin inflammation that characterizes psoriasis.
Common acne can also be treated with light therapy because certain UV rays are known to kill bacteria that cause acne. Whereas earlier sunlight exposure was thought to be an effective antidote to acne this was found to be unsafe due to the possible harm that extensive sun exposure can cause.
However, light therapy using super luminous LEDs is still able to control acne effectively in up to 90% of cases.
Light therapy is also useful for treating eczema, a skin conditions such as Polymorphous light eruption (PLE), Lichen Planus, where the skin breaks out in rashes, lesions and papules and even skin diseases such as Vitiligo or de-pigmentation.
Burns, diabetic ulcers, oral sores and other hard to treat wounds such as those caused by radiation and chemotherapy are thought to be helped by light therapy, particularly red light wave therapy.
This kind of light, when emitted my LEDs, helps to increase energy inside cells and thereby accelerates healing according to certain experts.
Disturbed sleep patterns, depressed mood and similar symptoms manifest themselves particularly at certain times of the year; most typically during the dark winter months.
In such cases, light therapy provides specific forms of illumination for the retina of the eyes and this is known to help alleviate symptoms of conditions such as the Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Light boxes that emit specific forms of light are used for treating the condition. It is recommended that the light box used should have been subject to proper clinical trials to assess efficacy and safety.
They should have a diffusing factor that omits harmful UV rays and should provide white light. The light box should be big enough that it can offer benefit even at arm’s length – a small or compact one will not do the job so well.