Skin diseases are common in Australia, with 16% of Australians going to doctors and hospital consulting for their dermatological concerns and needs. Since this number is not small, it has been a practice to seek out measures to prevent skin diseases from recurring. One common treatment is phototherapy.
Phototherapy, also known as a light treatment, is commonly used to treat a wide range of skin conditions and illnesses, including eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo. If you have these conditions, seek help from your trusted dermatologist and narrow-band UVB may be one of the treatment options.
Phototherapy has long been used to treat medical conditions dating back as far as 3500 years ago when ancient Egyptians and Indians used sunlight to treat various skin disorders.
With many breakthroughs in modern medicine, phototherapy is now highly regarded as an effective treatment for skin disorders and many different conditions. Since it has been popularized, the use of phototherapy in medical fields grew, and more techniques were developed. Eventually, it received widespread acceptance in the medical community.
Eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, itchy skin and other skin conditions can be treated through phototherapy. This treatment involves using UV light – a kind of light present in sunlight- to prevent skin cell inflammation and growth.
A healthy dose of sunlight every day can help ease the symptoms of your skin disorders. But take note, that ray coming directly from the sun can worsen or even up the chances of getting skin cancer. If you really want to bask in the heat of the sun always apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher on areas that don’t need UV light exposure.
A controlled and regulated UV light is rather effective than exposing yourself directly to the sunlight. In phototherapy, there are many different techniques and types to aid different kinds of disorders.
There are three types of phototherapy used in treating skin disorders:
- Broadband UVB: This therapy uses the full spectrum of the ultraviolet-B radiation. It is important to note that this treatment is used for dermatitis and psoriasis. Not available at Pymble Dermatology
- Narrowband UVB: Unlike BBUVB where the full spectrum of ultraviolet B rays are utilized, Narrowband UVB uses a small and dedicated part of UVB radiation. It is more intense and widely used by seasoned dermatologists. At Pymble Dermatology, we offer Narrowband UVB to many patients with psoriasis and eczema and the result is encouraging.
- PUVA: Psolaren ultraviolet-A (PUVA) combines UVA light with a chemical called psolaren. PUVA cures conditions like vitiligo, cutaneous T cell lymphoma. This treatment is the last resort when all other phototherapy treatments have failed to work as it is the most intense and is said to have many side effects. Not available at Pymble Dermatology
SIDE EFFECTS OF PHOTOTHERAPY
Phototherapy as a treatment for various disorders, it has little to no long-term side effects. If any, phototherapy has several temporary short-term side effects, such as skin redness, itching, folliculitis, blisters, headache, irritability, rashes, and dehydration. These side effects are nonetheless inconsequential to the benefits of the treatment.
CAN YOU HAVE A PHOTOTHERAPY SESSION?
Since we are dealing with UVB and UVA light, it is good to note that you should at least inform your dermatologist or avoid being treated with phototherapy if:
- You are a nursing mother or pregnant
- You have lupus with photosensitivity
- You are on medication which makes you photosensitive
- You have a history of previous skin cancer
During the consultation, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Discuss all the enquiries you have in mind. Be prepared and never miss your appointments to enjoy the full benefits of phototherapy (2-3 times a week for approximately 20 times)