Eczema is a dermatological skin condition characterized by skin inflammation, irritation, dryness, and itching. According to the National Eczema Association, more than 31 million Americans have some form of eczema — atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, hand eczema, neurodermatitis, nummular eczema, or stasis dermatitis.
There is no cure for this dermatological disease, but there are treatments. The prior way to improve this condition is to follow a bathing regimen, use plenty of skin moisturizers and use prescription medications prescribed by your doctor.
There are also second-line treatment methods, which include red light therapy (and also near-infrared). It is used for moderate to severe conditions. This treatment is effective in reducing inflammation without side effects.
How does red light work on eczema?
The primary cause of any skin condition is impaired mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the “energy station” of the cell, comparable with “batteries” that produce, store and distribute the energy necessary for the cell.
Red light interacts with the mitochondria, and the cells start producing more fuel for energy. When cells are full of energy, they can perform their functions at the highest level. With more power, other cells can do their job more effectively, such as repairing the skin, stimulating new cell growth, and enhancing skin rejuvenation.
Red and near-infrared lights (NIR) used in devices for eczema treatment stimulate the production of collagen, which gives the skin structure, strength, and elasticity. It is also responsible for tissue regeneration after damage, accelerating the healing process. The most important in the treatment of eczema — collagen creates a protective moisture-retaining layer on the skin. And, as we already know from the information above, a compromised skin barrier causes moisture to evaporate faster and inflammation and wounds to appear.
It’s worth clarifying that no LED red light therapy device is-approved for eczema treatment. Not many studies have been conducted using red light therapy to treat eczema. But, the wavelengths used in red light therapy devices have shown to be therapeutic, and the red and near-infrared ranges are excellent for reducing inflammation. They also increase microcirculation which can lead to tissue healing as more oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood enters the area.
Best red light therapy devices for eczema treatment
- Wavelengths: 650 nm and 850 nm
- Number of LEDs: 120
- Irradiance area: > 100 mW/cm2
- Dimensions: 25.2×8.66×2.56 inches
- Wattage: 600 W
SGROW RS600 works on two wavelengths: red — 650 nm and close to infrared — 850 nm, which allows it not only to eliminate skin problems but also to remove various painful sensations in the body, such as fatigue and muscle pain. Due to its size, the panel can illuminate most of the body, such as the entire back, abdomen, or legs. The device can be used up to 2 times a day in 10-20 minutes sessions.
According to customer reviews, the panel is built with high quality and is durable. It comes with a pulley system and a door hanger for height adjustment, allowing you to hang the device on the door for easy use. The only thing is that it is inconvenient to use when the door opens and closes because the SGROW RS600 is not attached to the bottom and thus swings.
It is also worth noting that the device comes with goggles to protect the eyes from the radiation of excellent quality. They are made of blackout rubber, which is much better than those super-sunglasses or plastic glasses that can come with other devices.
- Wavelengths: 650 nm and 850 nm
- Number of LEDs: 60
- Irradiance area: 130 mW/cm2
- Dimensions: 13.1×8.2×2.3 inches
- Wattage: 95 W
Bestqool X-60 device is smaller and more compact than SGROW RS600: its height is almost two times less. But despite this, it is very powerful and can cover half of the body. It emits bright light, which for some users may seem a little uncomfortable, so be sure to use eye protection.
It also comes with a door hanger that holds the device perfectly. Unlike the SGROW previous panel, it has rubber feet on the back near the fan that prevents the device from scratching and bouncing off the door when it opens and closes. But some customers report that the hanger does not fit their door, and they have to use something to loosen it. There are also feet to place the device on the floor or furniture. But be careful not to place it on a slippery surface, as the panel is heavy and may tip over.
- Wavelengths: 650 nm and 850 nm
- Number of LEDs: 18
- Irradiance area: 141 mW/cm2
- Dimensions: 4.7×4.7×4.7 inches
- Wattage: 36 W
Wolezek is the most compact device among those presented in our list. It looks like a bulb with a diameter of 4.7 inches. It contains 18 LEDs in the red and near-infrared spectrums. It can be purchased as a separate bulb or together with a holder. If you buy it separately, keep in mind that it has a lot of weight, and make sure your lampstand can handle it.
The disadvantages of this Wolezek lamp include the fact that it quickly heats up, and when used close to the body — it must be cooled. It should also be noted that for some persons its edges may seem a little sharp and unpleasant for the skin.
- Wavelengths: 660 nm and 880 nm
- Number of LEDs: 176
- Dimensions: 10.6×7.4×2.3 inches
- Wattage: 11.5 W
DGYAO is a device that is used to treat hands. It cannot irradiate other parts of the body like other devices. It contains the most significant number of LEDs — 176 pieces, which work at 660 nm and 880 nm wavelengths.
Users state that after daily use for several months, eczema disappears from the hands, and, in addition, hand pain due to fatigue or diseases such as arthritis decreases. But note that the result may differ depending on the situation — the severity of the disease and the frequency of using the device (no more than 40 minutes per session).
Like Bestqool X-60, it has a timer that automatically turns off the device after 20 minutes of use. The cord is long enough to allow you to plug it into an outlet and relax on the couch or bed while treating your hands.
How to use red light therapy for eczema
For the first applications of red light therapy, recommended starting the treatment 3-5 times a week for 10-20 minutes.
Then, research suggests that the best treatment protocol is at least two 20-minute sessions over 4-5 weeks, with a 48-hour break between sessions.
It is not advisable to look directly into a red light, as this can cause glare or visual discomfort. It may cause migraines or seizures in some people. During red light therapy, protective goggles should be worn when the light is on to prevent such symptoms.
Effectiveness of red light therapy for eczema — based on scientific research
In 1993, a study  was conducted on 81 patients with atopic dermatitis who were exposed to red light for an entire year, for just two minutes a week. Even after such a small amount of therapy with a short duration, scientists noted several improvements in the symptoms of eczema. Follicular keratosis (gooseflesh-like bumps), skin flaking, redness, pimples, and swellings decreased.
Also, 79% reported that treatment was effective in reducing itching symptoms, and 71% reported that skin rashes decreased. In addition, there were no side effects during or after the study.
Although red light therapy has not been extensively studied specifically for eczema, there have been many studies on the effects of red light on other chronic skin conditions and the improvement of their symptoms.
Thus, a large 2013 study  investigated the effect of laser therapy on various dermatological diseases. The scientific paper states that red light activates stem cells — the body’s “basic cells” responsible for healing. In addition to maintaining healthy cells, red light therapy integrated with a healthy lifestyle has shown a positive effect on inflammation. Such positive effects on the skin make red light therapy an essential tool in dermatology for treating cutaneous diseases, including eczema.
In 2019, a study  was conducted on the effects of red and near-infrared light on the skin. As a result, it was found that such radiation promotes skin regeneration and rejuvenation by increasing the synthesis of collagen and elastin, which regenerate the skin and make it healthy and supple.
Red light therapy can be an excellent helper in the treatment of eczema. Even though this type of treatment is used only as a second line, it has many benefits for the treatment of skin diseases: red light eliminates inflammation and accelerates healing.
Eczema can affect any part of the body. For its treatment on large areas you can use such panels as SGROW RS600 and Bestqool X-60; on the face — a compact budget-friendly bulb Wolezek; and for hands, we recommend DGYAO pads.
💥Does red light work for eczema?
FDA-approved treatment protocols do not include red light therapy. But there are many studies that red light reduces inflammation and itching. Also, the treatment has a positive effect on the healing of the skin and accelerates its regeneration.
📅How often should you do red light therapy for eczema?
For the first applications of red light therapy, recommended starting the treatment 3-5 times a week for 10-20 minutes. Then, research suggests that the best treatment protocol is at least two 20-minute sessions over 4-5 weeks, with a 48-hour break between sessions.
👩⚕️Is eczema an autoimmune disease?
Eczema and autoimmune diseases have a lot in common, but based on current definitions, eczema is not an autoimmune condition. In eczema, immune cells do not attack a specific target but react to external factors, a breach of the skin barrier, and skin bacteria.
⏱Can you do too much red light therapy?
Red therapy is considered a safe method of treatment that is not harmful to the skin. The skin responds well to its daily application several times. But if you have sensitive skin, it may take time to get used to it, and you may experience redness and tightness at first. In any case, always be guided by how you feel, and do not overdo it.
🧴Should I put anything on my skin before red light therapy?
Before the red light therapy procedure, you should remove your SPF and makeup. The skin should be cleaned of oil and dirt. It is also not recommended to use moisturizers, as they can reduce the effectiveness of red light penetration.
- H Morita, J Kohno, M Hori, Y Kitano. Clinical application of low reactive level laser therapy (LLLT) for atopic dermatitis. Keio J Med.1993 Dec;42(4):174-6.doi: 10.2302/kjm.42.174.
- Pinar Avci, Asheesh Gupta, Magesh Sadasivam, Daniela Vecchio, Zeev Pam, Nadav Pam, and Michael R Hamblin. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2013 Mar; 32(1): 41–52.
- Brian Kim, Abhirup Mukherjee, InSeok Seo, Ali Fassih, Michael Southall, Ramine Parsa, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Low-level red and infrared light increases expression of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid in skin. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2019.10.089