The Dermatology Practice.


What is Phototherapy

Phototherapy is the use of UV light in the treatment of skin diseases. It has been noted in ancient times that psoriasis often improves with exposure to the sun. Phototherapy reproduces the action of sunlight in a scientific and controlled manner.

Several types of phototherapy are available. Narrow-band UVB (NBUVB) and UVA/NBUVB (in combination) are the common types used. Your doctor will advise you on the most appropriate phototherapy for your skin condition.

Phototherapy has been found to be effective in a range of skin conditions. It is used most widely in psoriasis, vitiligo and atopic dermatitis.

How does phototherapy work?

Phototherapy suppresses skin inflammation and restores the balance of the skin immune system. As a result, hyperproliferation or thickening of skin cells is reduced.

How do you receive phototherapy?

A bath is recommended in the morning before phototherapy. This will hydrate the skin. Emollients should be applied before treatment. Treatment is normally given 2-3 times a week at the beginning. Multiple sessions of treatment may be required before any improvement of the skin condition is seen. Once the skin lesions have cleared, periodic treatment (1x per week to 1x per fortnight) may be continued to maintain clearance

What is Targeted Phototherapy?

This is a new effective method to treat localised skin areas without subjecting the whole body to UV light. The hand piece of the phototherapy machine is held near target skin area and UV light emitted is directed at that particular area to achieve its desired effect. It has been found to be effective in the treatment of localised vitiligo, psoriasis and eczema.

What are the side effects of phototherapy?

Phototherapy is a safe treatment modality in general. Dryness of skin and itch are the commonest side effects, which can be alleviated by frequent application of a moisturiser.
Patients may develop a tan after a period of phototherapy similar to sunburn happens only very rarely. In those patients with many years of continuous phototherapy, skin cancers are the major concern especially with PUVA treatment, a modality that is rarely used nowadays. The risk is minimal in short-term therapy. Skin cancers can be easily removed in early stages. Skin aging is another side effect of long-term therapy.