What Is Phototherapy?
Phototherapy is exposure to nonionizing radiation for therapeutic benefit. It is the medical application of light. UVA, UVB, and Full Spectrum light can each be used to treat different illness or disease. Full Spectrum light is used to treat seasonal depression. Ultraviolet light is used to treat many skin conditions, including: Psoriasis, Eczema, Acne, Pityriasis rosea, Vitiligo, Alopecia and many others.
There are two main types of Phototherapy used to treat these skin disorders.
PUVA therapy is the combination of UVA light and psoralen, a photosensitizing medication. Approved by the FDA in May of 1982 it is a complicated procedure taking hours to complete and has a greater number of side affects as compared to UVB therapy.
UVB Phototherapy was developed in the 1920’s, and uses artificially produced ultraviolet “B” light. The newest form of UVB Phototherapy is now called Narrow Band. It uses specially designed lamps that produce light peaking at 311nm, this has been found to be the most therapeutic wavelength of light for treating many skin disorders including Psoriasis.
It takes an average of 20 to 40 sessions administered a minimum of 3 times a week to clear treatable skin disorders. Once a patient has reached a clear status, the frequency of treatments can be reduced until a maintenance plan is accomplished.
One study shows that treatments given as seldom as six times per month can increase the length of remission by at least six months. Most people need eight treatments a month to prolong a clearance, but this will vary with each person.
NBUVB is therapeutic alone, (no Psoralen) most often the patient does apply an emollient to the skin prior to exposure. Exposure is dose related, as all medications are. A NBUVB dose is measured in millijoules (mj). A skin-typing questionnaire is taken by the patient in order to assist us to administer the proper starting dose and increments for each treatment.
There are many diseases that respond to NBUVB. Below is a list of the more common diseases that respond to NBUVB Narrow-band treatment.
It is a common, safe and very effective treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis or localized areas of stubborn plaques.