Phototherapy uses UVA or UVB light, depending on each patient's individual condition, to slow the growth of new skin cells. This minimally invasive treatment is customized for each patient and delivered solely to the targeted area to reduce damage to surrounding healthy cells.
This procedure is performed quickly and conveniently in your doctor's office, taking just a few seconds to treat unwanted conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo and return skin to its original state. Localized areas of skin can be treated specifically to improve its appearance through a series of treatment sessions. Your doctor will decide whether or not this treatment is right for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition.
Narrow-band UVB phototherapy involves shining ultraviolet light on the skin to treat psoriasis and other chronic skin conditions. It is an easier and safer alternative to PUVA treatment (psoralen plus UVA phototherapy). As its name suggests, the light that is used in narrow-band UVB phototherapy is a very specific range of wavelengths in the ultraviolet spectrum - just 311 to 312 nm - that has been shown to most effectively slow the rapid growth of cells and improve the symptoms of psoriasis.
Patients generally receive narrow-band UVB phototherapy treatments three times per week for about 10 weeks. Exposure time begins at a few seconds and increases with each session. Session lengths are tailored to the patient's skin type and tolerance. After the skin has cleared, UVB phototherapy may be continued to prolong remission time, or patients may undergo other skin disorder treatments to minimize their exposure to ultraviolet light.
For psoriasis, phototherapy is an effective treatment for patients who do not respond to topical medications alone. Psoriasis causes red or white patches of dead skin cells by rapidly creating new cells. Phototherapy exposes the affected skin to ultraviolet light that slows the growth of new skin cells. This may be done using UVA or UVB light, depending on each individual case. UVB light is often more effective for treating psoriasis, while UVA light is able to penetrate deeper for more severe cases.
Phototherapy is usually administered to psoriasis patients twice a week for four to five weeks. Results are often visible within two weeks and will continue to improve as treatment continues. Most patients see effective relief from this minimally invasive, FDA-approved treatment.
Eczema is a term used to describe a group of inflamed skin conditions that result in chronic, relapsing and very itchy rashes. About 15 million people in the United States suffer from some form of eczema. There is no known cause for the condition, but it appears to involve an overactive immune system in the presence of certain materials and often occurs in people susceptible to allergies.
Phototherapy is effective in treating symptoms of eczema by exposing the skin to controlled amounts of natural or artificial UVA or UVB light. This procedure is often performed in conjunction with medication to provide the longest-lasting relief from eczema symptoms.
Vitiligo is a common skin condition in which pigment cells are destroyed and white patches of skin appear on different parts of the body. Hair growing in these areas may turn white as well. Vitiligo can affect any area of the skin, but is most common on the face, lips, hands, arms, legs and genital areas.
The most common treatment for vitiligo is PUVA therapy, which combines ultraviolet A light treatment with a medication called psoralen. Psoralen increases the skin's sensitivity to the ultraviolet light to enable more absorption. The medication should be taken approximately one-and-a-half to two hours before each phototherapy session.
Phototherapy is a widely used, highly effective form of treatment for a number of types of skin conditions. However, phototherapy has been linked to several potential complications, including premature aging of the skin and an increased risk of skin cancer. It is essential that anyone undergoing phototherapy receive regular full-body examinations for indications of skin damage or cancer.