Can sun exposure treat neonatal jaundice?

Neonatal jaundice is very common. Babies born a few days ago will have yellow skin. Whether the doctor suggests treatment or not, parents all hope to have a way to remove yellow as soon as possible without taking medicine or injections.

Therefore, there is a widely circulated method: basking in the sun to relieve jaundice.

At first glance, how good this method is. You can cure the disease without injection, medicine or money.

However, can you cure jaundice by basking in the sun at home?

The answer is, not necessarily.

Sun exposure can help [eliminate yellow], but the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

When we say [can treat], we actually mean that sunlight has certain effects, but we do not recommend that everyone bask in the sun for the baby.

As we said earlier, jaundice is actually [hyperbilirubinemia], which means that the bilirubin level in the newborn has increased.

When bilirubin reaches a certain level, it may cause irreversible damage to the body (especially the brain) and produce serious sequelae. In order to prevent this situation, it is necessary to treat bilirubin before it reaches a dangerous level.

The vast majority of neonatal jaundice is due to the increase of unconjugated bilirubin in the body caused by various reasons.

By irradiating the skin with light of a certain wavelength, fat-soluble bilirubin can be converted into water-soluble bilirubin, thus accelerating its excretion through urine.

The bilirubin conversion efficiency is the highest when visible light with a wavelength of 400 ~ 500 nm (especially in the 460 ~ 490 nm range) is irradiated. Blue light, green light and sunlight with this wavelength range can be used to treat jaundice.

Judging from the light itself, the sunlight and the light emitted by the fluorescent tube both contain the light in these wavelength ranges. Theoretically, the effect of basking in the sun and [fluorescent lamp] for the baby is almost the same.

However, for babies under 12 months old, the sun is too strong and it is easy to get sunburned, so it is not worth the risk for babies to take in order to remove yellow.

It should be reminded that neonatal jaundice is physiological and pathological. Many children may be physiological jaundice, and most physiological jaundice will slowly improve, so no special intervention treatment is needed.

Can sun certainly cure jaundice?

Not necessarily.

Because the phototherapeutic effect is not only related to the wavelength of the light source, but also related to these factors:

    Distance of light source; The area of skin exposed to light sources; The power of the light source, etc.

Therefore, although sunlight contains light sources suitable for phototherapy, it cannot achieve the best therapeutic effect.

If the doctor judges that the child is pathological jaundice, he or she recommends that everyone go to the hospital for phototherapy., because:

    The phototherapeutic instrument uses the most efficient light source (blue light therapeutic instrument with a wavelength of about 460nm). The speed of reducing bilirubin is the fastest, Of course, the effect of preventing complications is also the best. Let the baby’s whole body skin be exposed under the light source, At the same time, take effective measures to prevent side effects of phototherapy, such as protecting eyes and perineum, timely fluid infusion to prevent dehydration, etc. Timely monitoring of children’s bilirubin level, if phototherapy is ineffective, can also timely use exchange of blood and other methods to prevent serious complications.


If the examination found physiological jaundice, no drug intervention is required, and direct sun exposure is not recommended.

If the examination finds pathological jaundice, it must be treated in a hospital and the cause must be found as much as possible.

No matter the causes of jaundice are hemolysis, infection, congenital enzyme deficiency, gene mutation, etc., further treatment of primary diseases or corresponding medical advice for giving birth to a second child may be required. These are all things that doctors can do, so pathological jaundice should be treated in hospital.

In short, everyone should follow the doctor’s advice and adopt the most suitable treatment for the baby.