How Does Light Therapy Treat Jaundice?

jaundice in newborn babies


Light therapy and jaundice both are different topics, but in the way of treating, somewhere these two are related to each other.

Jaundice is a medical condition, where skin, eyes white color, and mucous membranes turn yellow, which is said to be a much clear sign of jaundice.

However, both jaundice and mental disorder (which treat with light therapy) are also treated with doctors’ prescribed medicines.

Light Therapy

Light therapy is one of the best alternative options to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), where the season affects a person.

Causes depression, and anxiety, are the most commonly seen symptoms. LT acts as natural sunlight, which triggers our feel-good hormones in our brain.

Even, much research has shown that LT can help in reducing the symptoms of seasonal depression.

There are many 3 common LT is white, blue, and red which have their distinct advantages, But can LT treat jaundice?


Jaundice is caused by the bilirubin (a yellow-orange substance) which is found in RBC, but when the liver is not able to function properly.

Then the bilirubin starts deposited in the liver, which makes the skin look yellow, causing jaundice.

It is also known as icterus.

Common symptoms of jaundice include:

  • Yellow skin and the whites of the eyes
  • dark urine
  • itchiness
  • pale stools
  • fever
  • weigth loss
  • fatigue

How Does light therapy treat jaundice?

Jaundice can affect anyone but it is one of the most common health issues in babies. And in adults is rarely seen.

It is estimated about 6 out of every 10 babies, develop jaundice. and 8 out of 10 premature babies or before the 37th week of pregnancy develops jaundice.

Many babies resolve without treatment within 2 weeks. but some babies, about 1 in 20 babies have a high level of bilirubin that requires treatment.

Newborn infants, or born too early are more chance of getting jaundice because their liver isn’t mature enough to get rid of bilirubin in the bloodstream.

In 1968 Lucey and Pediatrics conducted a study by a colleague where results were observed on 111 infants that exposure to phototherapy safely prevented hyperbilirubinemia.

Is really light therapy work on jaundice? if yes, so how?

At the present time, blue light radiation is often used in treating newborn jaundice in the clinic (2).

Blue light therapy or phototherapy is one of the main used for infants’ jaundice and its wavelength is as long as 420–470 nm (3).

The study suggests that the combined effect of bifico and blue light therapy can prompt intestinal peristalsis and excretion of bilirubin (4)

Which reduces the abnormal absorption of bilirubin in the intestinal wall, thus relieving the jaundice patients (5). but how?

NOTE: As we know that high level of bilirubin in the liver causes jaundice, so this light therapy lowers the level of bilirubin in the baby’s blood.

NOTE: When light therapy applies in babies, it adds oxygen to the bilirubin, so that it dissolves easily in water.

And the baby’s liver can break it down more easily, allowing easier removal of bilirubin from the blood.

Is light therapy safe for babies?

It is considered safe for the baby as it does not contain harmful rays. In this, a special blanket is used to cover the baby, then light is used.

NOTE: Light therapy is also an effective treatment because it forces skin cells to produce melanin to protect the body from UV rays damage.

During this, the baby’s temperature will be maintained, to prevent any discomfort or dehydration by monitoring.

Covering baby eyes before exposure to light Is also included because it can cause retina damage, however, there has been no report of retina damage with LT.

How Long Do Babies Need Light Therapy?

In most cases, babies are placed on Light Therapy for 24 to 48 hours, but In some cases, it requires only 24 hours or less.

NOTE: But in some other cases, it may take time from 5 to 8 days (6).

How much light to give to infants and when to give it? It is decided on what is the level of bilirubin in a baby, for this a simple blood test need.

The doctor may do a few tests (after therapy has started) every 4 to 6 hours to check the treatment is working.

NOTE: The baby is also checked every 6 to 12 hours after the bilirubin level drops or neutral.

NOTE: A small number of babies with severe jaundice require a blood transfusion to dilute bilirubin level into the red blood cells.

Sunlight for Newborn Jaundice? Good or Not

In at-risk infants, sunlight can also be used to stop jaundice before the condition become severe, however, sunlight used is a matter of concern.

Because the sun also emits Ultraviolet and Infrared radiation, which can put the baby at risk of sunburn, and developing neoplasia on the skin.

Also, the amount of sunlight cannot be determined, because the amount and intensity of sunlight increase or decrease as the day progress (7).

Data revealed that sunlight may be about 6.5 times more effective than phototherapy If taking into account the efficiency and exposure (8).

If sunlight can be utilized in a safe and controlled manner so it could be quite helpful in many ways (9).


There are many advantages of light therapy, whether it is red, blue, or white, all have their unique benefits.

In adults, it calms an overactive immune system, helps in repairing cells, and muscles, ease inflammation and itching, etc.


Light therapy is considered safe for babies, that is why it is used, but it also has few side effects. This include:

  • Baby may develop temporary rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin color also changed
  • Dark, gray-brown discoloration urine, and serum

NOTE: Although the exact reason is not understood, it is believed that this is due to the accumulation of porphyrins and other metabolites.

Apart from jaundice, putting a newborn in direct sunlight is not recommended safe, because it could be exposing the baby to cold.

Learn More – Excellent Home Remedies For Cough And Cold

Can You Do Light therapy At Home?

You can do phototherapy at home, but remember, you should get it done only under the care of a doctor, they check all the conditions of the baby.

In most cases, it is considered right to keep the baby in the hospital because all those facilities are easily available.

The doctor checks all criteria to make sure your baby can have phototherapy at home.

Phototherapy or light therapy at home includes:

  • You baby must be close to full term
  • They must be at least 48 hours old
  • Your baby must be medically well, apart from jaundice, and will be check by baby doctor.
  • A diet plan has to be made for the baby.
  • You will need to talk to the hospital team for a nurse, who will take care of your baby.

NOTE: If you feel any difficulty or the baby feels any kind of discomfort, then talk to the doctor as soon as possible.


Putting a newborn in direct sunlight is not recommended safe, because it could be exposing the baby to cold.

When light therapy applies in babies, it adds oxygen to the bilirubin, so that it dissolves easily in water, and passes out through sweat and urine.

How long will the child be in light therapy? it depends on the level of bilirubin in the baby’s blood.


Hello, I'm Sahil bisht, I am a Mechanical engineer, As well as, aspiring blogger with an obsession for health. This blog delicate to people who want to learn in health.

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