Phototherapy (Light Therapy)
Phototherapy is a non-invasive light therapy treatment used to combat a wide range of skin conditions.
Phototherapy (also known as heliotherapy) is a type of light therapy in which natural or artificial UV light is used to improve a health condition. Treatment might involve fluorescent light bulbs, halogen lights, sunlight, or light emitting diodes (LEDs).
Ultraviolet (UV) light triggers biological processes that reduce inflammation and prevent skin cells from growing too quickly. Regular exposure of the affected area helps to control inflammation and clear the skin.
If your skin disorder fails to respond to standard treatments, there's hope. Your dermatologist at Howsden Dermatology will let you know if phototherapy is right for you.
What is Phototherapy Used For?
Phototherapy has been used worldwide for nearly a century to treat chronic skin conditions and some mental health conditions, such as:
- Psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, or vitiligo
- Some skin cancers, such as cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Certain types of acne
- Other skin conditions that cause itching
- Skin wounds from diabetes or injuries
- Jaundice in babies
- SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), depression, or sleep problems
Talk to your dermatologist at Howsden Dermatology to see if phototherapy may be right for your condition.
Types of Phototherapy
The two most common types of phototherapy used are UVB narrow-band and broad-band.
- Narrow-band UVB uses a smaller, more intense part of UVB to treat skin conditions. It’s the most common type of phototherapy used today.
- Broad-band UVB uses a wide range of UVB rays. UVB rays are present in sunlight (but you can't see them).
In some severe or disabling psoriasis cases, UVB treatment is not enough. These patients might require PUVA (Psoralen Ultraviolet-A), a treatment that combines UVA light with a chemical called psoralen, which comes from plants. PUVA light can cause more side effects (compared to other light therapies). Therefore, it’s only used when other options have failed.
The type of therapy you need and how the light is used can vary depending on your health condition.
Am I a Candidate For Phototherapy?
Phototherapy is considered to be safe and is appropriate for those with moderate-to-severe issues. However, some people do experience side effects.
People with certain health conditions should avoid phototherapy. If you fall into one of these categories, make sure your healthcare provider is aware:
- You are pregnant or breastfeeding
- You have a family history of skin cancer
- You have liver disease
- You have lupus
Your dermatologist will advise you as to whether or not you are a good candidate for phototherapy. A healthy individual with no underlying conditions is likely a good candidate for this treatment.
Phototherapy is FDA-approved and has been shown to be effective. Why not see for yourself what phototherapy can do for your skin?