UV Exposure


Oh c’mon! Yes, we know that it is stretching the limits of ‘Alternative Therapy’ to include tanning, or just exposure to good old sunshine. But here’s the thing. Lot’s of us do believe that the sun and tanning beds help our hair grow, and quite a few people swear that it improves their hair growth. So we might as well look into it.

Our best guess as to why this works, or at least why people think this works, is because of the reported successes of PUVA treatments. There are a number of research studies that have shown good results with that therapy. The problem with PUVA is that one needs to near a facility that provides it, and also needs to have a fair amount of cash on hand. Most doctors don’t even recommend it, because few insurance companies cover it, and it is quite expensive.

So is the dear, dear sunshine (or the somewhat less dear tanning booth), the same as a PUVA treatment? Oh, don’t be silly. Of course not. But if it is not the same, is it so far off?

Well, it’s a bit hard to tell. We found some information regarding tanning as treatment on a website for people with the autoimmune disease vitiligo, which is very closely related to alopecia. In fact some people with vitiligo are misdiagnosed as having alopecia. Many of the treatments for the two diseases are similar.

From Vitiligo Support International:

Can tanning beds (solariums) be used in place of PUVA or Narrow Band UVB?
Many experts suggest that tanning beds (also known as tanning booths and solariums) not be used in place of PUVA lamps or Narrow Band UVB lamps or even natural sunlight. The problem with tanning beds is that the lamps in these devices usually emit a much stronger, broader spectrum of UV rays, and may not be as safe or effective for people treating vitiligo, and may result in severe burning or other side effects. You should consult your dermatologist before attempting any type of light or UV therapy.

Make what you will of that.

The Access Research Network’s website has a discussion about the health risks involved in exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation (sunlight, tanning booths), but then goes on that exposure may have certain benefits:

Health Benefits of UVR

UVR is not all bad. For one thing, it assists in the production of vitamin D in skin cells. This vitamin D is absorbed by the body and then used in the up-take of calcium from the intestinal tract. This vitamin is essential for the growth and development of healthy bones. Fortunately, brief exposure to sunlight on a regular basis is enough to produce all the vitamin D most people need. The vitamin can also be obtained from dietary sources.

UVR is also useful for treating psoriasis and alopecia areata. But such treatment may also increase the risk of skin cancer, and should be undertaken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable physician.

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