Red Light Therapy for Eczema: How It Might Help

Red Light Therapy for Eczema: How It Might Help

Medically Reviewed by | Heidi Wright, BSN, RN, PCCN

Eczema is a common skin condition that affects more than 31 million Americans. Its symptoms can range from mild to severe, and anyone at any age can develop it. If you’re one of the people suffering from this itchy, uncomfortable issue, you’re probably looking for long-term solutions that really work.

There are seven different types of eczema. We’ll talk about each one, the underlying causes and triggers, and what you can do when you have a flare-up. We’ll also cover recommended treatments from the American Academy of Dermatology, including phototherapy. Red light therapy is an effective way to address and manage eczema symptoms and reduce their severity when they appear.

Red light therapy isn’t new, it’s a scientifically-backed option that was developed by NASA and has been used in the medical field for wound healing and skin repair for decades. Now, we may be able to harness this technology for other benefits, including skin health.

What Is Eczema?

Although eczema is incredibly common, it’s not well understood in terms of causes, cures, and treatments. There are seven different types of eczema

  • Atopic dermatitis. This is the most common form of eczema that occurs frequently in children but can also occur in adults.
  • Contact dermatitis. Brought on by environmental triggers, this form of eczema happens due to an allergic reaction. 
  • Dyshidrotic eczema. This form of eczema results in the drying of the skin, which leads to burning, blisters, and extremely chapped skin. 
  • Neurodermatitis. A person with this type of dermatitis often has patches of itchy, scaly skin.
  • Nummular eczema. Dermatitis that presents with small, round bumps on the skin (especially on the arms and legs) is nummular eczema.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis. This eczema affects the scalp.
  • Stasis dermatitis. This type of eczema appears on the legs and resembles varicose veins.

It’s possible to have more than one type of eczema, or to experience symptoms from several forms of eczema.

What Causes Eczema?

The hardest part of understanding eczema is learning about what causes it and/or triggers a flare up. Because every person’s skin and chemistry is different, there can be many different environmental factors that can create an eczema flare up, and not all of them will result in a flare up in every person who has eczema. That said, you’re kind of on your own in terms of learning which environmental factors lead to your own eczema breakouts.

We do know that genetics plays a role in who is most likely to get eczema. A genetic mutation in some people leads to the production of less filaggrin, a protein that is essential for maintaining a healthy skin barrier. 

Other causes of eczema include:

  • Contact with an external allergen (like metal, grass, or chemicals)

  • Jobs that keep hands and feet wet (like hair styling or swimming)

  • Stress

  • Bug bites, burns, or scrapes

  • Certain circulatory issues

Beneath all forms of eczema lies an issue with the immune system, in which the immune system becomes over-stimulated and responds by producing eczema-related rashes. 

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Eczema?

Although symptoms vary across the seven different types of eczema, the main symptoms are:

  • Dryness. Eczema is characterized by severely dry skin that becomes flaky. In some cases, the skin may become so dry that it becomes chapped, blistered, and eventually cracks, causing sores.
  • Itchiness. Eczema most frequently presents with some level of itchy skin, and this is one of the most uncomfortable symptoms someone with eczema can experience. 
  • Papules and blisters. In some cases, eczema breakouts may involve the development of tiny blisters and/or pimple-like papules that are small and red.
  • Visible variations in color on the skin.
  • Rashes and lesions on the skin.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Some people who experience severe eczema may even need immediate medical treatment involving immunosuppressive medications. 

How Is Eczema Commonly Managed?

“The most common treatments for eczema include maintaining a good skincare routine and taking a proactive approach to your skin health by working with a healthcare provider to treat the underlying cause,” highlights Heidi Wright, Registered Nurse. However, even people who take excellent care of their skin and never forget to use their moisturizer can and will experience flare-ups from time to time. 

When a flare-up occurs, there are dos and don’ts to handling them. 

What To Do When You Have a Flare-Up

According to general recommendations, the first rule of managing an eczema flare-up is to avoid picking, scratching, or further irritating the area of inflamed skin. Although it can be difficult, this will lead to further inflammation of the skin and can make your flare-up worse.

  • Do use anti-inflammatory, topical steroid creams if prescribed. If your healthcare provider has given you a prescription topical cream to use, follow directions for care associated with a flare-up.
  • Do make sure you are using an emollient cream that your dermatologist or doctor has cleared for your use. Emollients help soften the skin and are one of the first lines of defense for at-home treatment.
  • Do know when to contact your doctor. If your flare-up doesn’t go away immediately, or if it begins to worsen, contact your healthcare provider. 

In addition to knowing what to do, there’s also a list of things to avoid.

What Not To Do When You Have a Flare-Up

When eczema rears its itchy, flaky head, here are some things to be conscious of that may make your flare-up worse, based on general advice.

  • Don’t pick, scratch, or rub the affected area. It can be hard, and using an anti-itch cream can help. 
  • Don’t stress over social engagements. If you’re having a particularly bad flare-up, it’s okay to say no to going out until it clears up. Stress can be a trigger for eczema.
  • Don’t use products that can cause irritation. Skincare products that contain fragrance, essential oils, urea, lanolin, alcohol, retinol, propylene glycol, and cocamidopropyl betaine are all known irritants for eczema.

Avoiding these habits can help keep your skin calm and help your flare-up go away faster. 

What Should You Know About Photobiomodulation and Eczema?

A new and promising option involves the use of different wavelengths of light to potentially help target the skin — and these wavelengths might be able to help with eczema in a non-invasive, non-medicated way. If you’ve tried other options and experienced unwanted side effects, using light therapy is a potential solution. Most people experience zero side effects with certain types of light therapy, like red light therapy. 

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy and near-infrared light therapy use wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum of light to target the skin and improve it. Red light therapy sessions are also popularly used to help promote collagen production, help manage pain, help with muscle and joint discomfort, and even improve athletic performance. 

Near infrared light can potentially penetrate the skin and target deeper layers of tissue, helping support skin health further. 

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

Red light therapy works by targeting skin health where it starts: inside the cells. Each cell contains tiny organelles called mitochondria, which supply the cell with energy to carry out cellular functions. 

Mitochondria convert glucose that is broken down from the foods we eat into usable packets of energy called ATP. ATP ensures the cell can function properly. The particular wavelengths of red light (specifically the 590 nm wavelength) target mitochondrial function and help the mitochondria in our cells make ATP more efficiently. 

This may explain why in one study, people with an eczema outbreak who received red light therapy for just two minutes per week experienced significant reductions in symptoms like:

  • Skin itching
  • Redding 
  • Flaking
  • Bumps and papules

People who underwent red light therapy also reported less pain and discomfort during their flare-ups compared with people who did not receive red light therapy, and the flare-ups healed faster in the people who were given red light therapy than in those who did not receive it. 

The best news is that in this specific study, no one who received red light therapy experienced any negative side effects, meaning red light therapy is a largely comfortable, effective method.

How To Use Red Light Therapy at Home

Some medical spas offer red light therapy, and you can probably get treatment from your dermatologist. However, if you are an eczema sufferer, you know how important it is to have fast, reliable, and private treatment available to you in the comfort of your own home. 

For the highest-quality, independently tested red light therapy devices that deliver proven, documented results, Mito Red Light at-home devices are the superior choice. Our mobile red light devices make excellent options for supporting smaller areas of the body, including the face and neck. 

If you experience eczema in larger areas of your body, our MitoPro+ Series panel arrays and XL panels are the perfect solution. You’ll typically experience the most benefits from 20-30 minutes of exposure to red light once per day. 

Why Mito Red Light?

You’ve got options for red light therapy, and ensuring you get the best option for your situation is essential for making sure you have reliable management for eczema flare-ups. With Mito Red Light, you’ll have access to the best machines that are crafted to ensure you get the most red light therapy available. 

Our devices feature:

  • More diodes per square inch than our competitors to avoid dead space on our devices and to help you avoid the “polka-dot” effect. 
  • Third-party testing to ensure our lights are within the therapeutic window of effectiveness as determined by scientific testing. 
  • Enhanced Spectral Energy Output™, which allows our devices to deliver energy across more spectrums of red and near-infrared light. 

Combined with our 60-day risk-free trial and superior customer service, the choice to use Mito Red Light is clear.

Eczema: In the Clear

It’s hard to live with eczema, especially when you have a flare-up. Some treatments may cause you to experience unwanted side effects and further eczema irritation. Always consult a healthcare professional before adding red light therapy to your routine. 

For help with skin health when you need it, in the comfort and privacy of your own home, trust Mito Red Light to give you the healing red light wavelengths you need. 

DISCLAIMER: Mito Red Light devices are not clinically proven to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical conditions. Mito Red Light devices are Class II general wellness devices aimed at affecting the body through topical heating and supporting cellular function. The scientific studies referenced in this article are for informational purposes only. To see a list of precautionary warnings and contraindications, click here. 


Eczema (atopic dermatitis): Causes, symptoms, and treatment | National Eczema

Eczema treatment: Phototherapy | American Academy of

7 Types of Eczema: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | National Eczema

8 Skincare Ingredients to Avoid | National Eczema

Transcranial near-infrared light in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases |