British government's public health safety watchdog has issued what it described as precautionary advice after measuring levels of UV light emitted by the bulbs at the request of patient groups.
They have complained that they aggravate light-sensitive conditions such as the blood disease lupus, eczema and porphyria, reports the Independent.
Energy saving bulbs have been on the market for more than 20 years and come in two types - open with the glass coil clearly visible, and encapsulated where the coil is enclosed in a second layer of glass and looks more like a conventional light bulb.
The research showed that one in five of the open bulbs emitted UV light equivalent to that experienced on a sunny day in summer when in very close proximity (less than one inch) to the skin, which warranted some precaution.
When the light was moved further away, beyond one foot, the UV level was below the exposure on a sunny day in winter and was not a concern.
Open bulbs should not be used where the user is closer than one foot for more than one hour a day, the agency said. Encapsulated lights with a double glass envelope did not emit significant amounts of UV light, the research found, and could be used in place of the open kind for close work.
The problem only occurs when the lights are used for close work, such as in desk lamps or reading lights. When the light is more than one foot away there is no danger, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said.