The Healing Power of Sunshine
There it goes, rising again, triggering the release of serotonin "happy hormone" in our brains, boosting our serotonin levels to lift our mood and help combat feelings of depression and anxiety. Ah, the warm and radiant glow of the sun. (OK, I am feeling slightly guilty if you are reading this from the UK, But it's one of the many reasons I now live in Spain) It's a natural wonder that has been celebrated and revered by cultures throughout history. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, sunshine plays a pivotal role in promoting overall health and well-being. Embracing the sun is essential for a balanced and healthy lifestyle. I know what you're thinking, stay out of the sun it's dangerous, and for those who sit for hours in it without applying sun barrier, I would agree. However, as anEczema sufferer it has huge benefits for me, so I don't shy away from it.
Sunshine and Eczema
When I was younger, I had SEVERE eczema, there wasn't a part of my body that wasn't covered at some point. You name a place, I had it there.
I recall :
I have two nightmare flashbacks (yes, worse that those) that always make me shiver. One was being bullied at school & called Henry the Eighth after a history class highlighted his leg ulcers and the putrid smell of rotten flesh. If I could have raised my arm without splitting my skin, I would have punched the air when I had to take extended time off school during the period I was at my worst.
- going to Harley Street to some expensive doctor
- made to go veggie periodically
- all sort of smelly ointments applied
- held down for eye drops
- and there was the much detested WITCH who came to the house. She picked weeds from the neighbour's garden on route and made me drink the tea from it (I would pay for someone to show me how now!)
Then there were the many nights of being wrapped like a mummy, in cold wet bandages, top to toe, and sent to bed. The idea behind this was that it sped up the rejuvenation of new skin. All I remember was the intense itching during the night, and waking inside a snow globe as they were removed. Yep, disgusting right?! I am glad I wasn't the one who had to hoover all that up (sorry mum).
As you can imagine over the years, this involved a lot of pain & discomfort for me and expense for my parents, but nothing seemed to work, well not for long anyway.
"But your skin is lovely, Tracey - I think you're exaggerating!" - Believe me, I am not. My skin may not be scared, but I am from those experiences. That's not something I would wish for any child or young woman to endure.
I left the UK at 18 after marrying a soldier and went to live in Cyprus. Let's just say, being one of the most stressful of times, I should have been riddled with eczema. But I wasn't. In fact, far from it. I thought it was the benefits of my constant dips in the Mediterranean Sea, for it was warmer and far salter than the English Chanel that I was forced to wade in occasionally as I grew up.
Then two years later, I moved back to the UK. Within weeks, I felt the itching return. I could see my skin changing. I knew what was coming. I read in a magazine that sunshine could help skin conditions. It was then that I put two and two together. In the summer I went out in the sun more than I would have as a child, I walked miles to make the most of it, but in the winter the itching and flaking would return. This was when I started using UV beds. I know these have risks associated to them, but only 4 mins every month was enough to get me through the winter. It kept me sane.
Then, I moved to Spain. I can honestly say that my skin has never felt better. I rarely sit or lay out in it, and where there is a UV umbrella, you will find me under it. I put on factor 30-50 face cream daily, regardless of how cloudy it is. The sunshine I get is from all the walking that I do. It's my medicine. And it's FREE.
Obviously this is MY story, and may not suit everyone who has a skin complaint, even eczema, we are all individuals and our bodies are complex. But If this can help one person not suffer like I did, then I will not apologise for being an advocate to getting some sunshine on your body, in a safe and healthy way.
Benefits and Negatives of sunshine
Exposure to sunlight can have both positive and negative effects. However, it's important to approach sun exposure with caution and follow medical advice. Here are some potential benefits of sunlight for people with eczema:
Vitamin D Production: Sunlight helps the skin produce vitamin D, which plays a role in the immune system and can contribute to overall skin health. Some studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency may be linked to an increased risk of eczema flare-ups, so getting moderate sun exposure may be beneficial in this regard.
Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Sunlight exposure can have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin, which may help reduce redness, swelling, and itching associated with eczema.
Bacterial Balance: Sunlight exposure has been shown to influence the skin's microbiome, promoting a balance of beneficial bacteria. A balanced skin microbiome may help reduce the severity of eczema symptoms.
Despite these potential benefits, it's essential to be cautiously because of the potential risks:
Sunburn: Eczema-prone skin can be more sensitive, making it more susceptible to sunburn. Sunburn can exacerbate eczema symptoms.
Skin Dehydration: Sun exposure can cause skin dehydration, which may worsen eczema symptoms. Moisturizing the skin regularly and staying hydrated can help counteract this effect (I Can highly recommend Virgin Coconut Oil applied after every shower!)
Heat Triggers: For some individuals with eczema, heat can trigger flare-ups, and increase itching and irritation.
Photosensitivity: Certain medications used to treat eczema, such as topical steroids, can increase the skin's sensitivity to sunlight.
ALWAYS consult your doctor or dermatologist for personalised advice on sun exposure based on your individual condition and medical history.
Embracing the Healing Rays
The sun is more than just a celestial object; it's a powerful source of health and well-being. From the much-needed vitamin D to the mood-enhancing properties, sunshine offers an array of benefits that shouldn't be overlooked. However, it's essential to enjoy the sun responsibly, avoiding excessive exposure and protecting our skin with sunscreen. So, next time you feel the sun's rays calling you outside, don't hesitate to bask in its warmth and enjoy the many gifts it offers. Embrace the sun, and let it FeedYouSoul with its healing and life-giving energy. Remember, a healthy dose of sunshine can work wonders for your body and mind!
Are you a fellow eczema sufferer, have you found the same? You don't have to be an eczema sufferer to comment below. I would love to hear from anyone and hear their views on this subject. TIA x