Total body heliotherapy

Authors

  • M. B. T. Alora,

    1. Department of Dermatology, Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • T. B. Fitzpatrick,

    1. Department of Dermatology, Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • C. R. Taylor

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Dermatology, Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

Department of Dermatology, Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA

Abstract

Sunlight has long been known to be beneficial for a variety of skin diseases. Patients with psoriasis and eczema frequently employ ambient heliotherapy to control their conditions. However, social norms do not permit a person to expose the entire body in public, thus placing severe restrictions on the utility of this modality for the treatment of generalized psoriasis, for example. Tan-ThruTM bathing suits, designed to attract those who wish to tan without an accentuated “tan line”, are reported to absorb ultraviolet (UV) rays up to a maximum equivalent of a sun protection factor (SPF) 10 sunblock, thus offering approximately 89% protection while in use, according to their manufacturer. If so, this bathing suit may allow patients with UV-responsive skin dermatoses to achieve full body exposure in a socially acceptable manner. The objective of this study was to verify the SPF and to determine the actual transmittance to skin covered by a Tan-ThruTM bathing suit. Ten healthy adult subjects were recruited for this investigation. UVB minimal erythema dose (MED) was determined on unaffected gluteal or lower back skin, once with and once without the swimsuit on. Our results showed that the mean SPF afforded by the bathing suit was in fact 4.9 (range 4.5-5.6). In conclusion, theoretically, the Tan-ThruTM bathing suits could allow enough UVB penetration under ambient conditions to be beneficial for patients with UVB responsive conditions.

Ancillary