New research suggests that contrary to the accepted belief that the sun is problematic for skin prone to eczema, it could actually help with the condition.

The reason why the sun’s rays may be a natural eczema cure is that a molecule, nitric oxide, is released into the blood stream when we are exposed to sun.

Nitric oxide can reduce inflammation that causes the itching in eczema prone skin because it activates specialised immune cells which dampen inflammation. Its release activates specialised immune cells called regulatory T cells, which act to dampen ongoing inflammation.

Eczema is a growing problem for many people and affects around one in five children and one in 20 adults in the UK.

Research scientists say their findings pave the way for new therapies which mimic the effects of the sun's rays and could help patients avoid light therapy, which can have several damaging side effects.

The new research was carried out at the Medical Research Council Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh and published in the latest edition of the medical Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.