November 26, 2014
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Psoriasis

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Light therapy for psoriasis

Light therapy, also called phototherapy, involves exposing skin to natural and artificial ultraviolet (UV) light under the guidance of a health care professional. Light therapy is usually done in a doctor's office, but some people may use a phototherapy unit at home. It is used to treat moderate-to-severe psoriasis.

Light therapy is based on the observation that many people with psoriasis find that their symptoms seem to improve when they expose their skin to sunlight. However, there is a risk of sunburn, so only a modest amount of exposure is recommended, and light therapy should be done under the supervision of your doctor.

There are different types of light therapy:

Light therapy is often combined with other psoriasis treatments (such as topical treatments or systemic treatments.

Talk to your doctor about the most appropriate psoriasis treatment for you. With effective treatment and management, psoriasis lesions can be cleared.

PUVA

How it works
PUVA is the short form for psoralen plus UVA (ultraviolet A light). PUVA works to slow down the overgrowth of skin cells to help clear psoriasis lesions. Psoralen is a medication that is taken by mouth or applied directly on the skin at a specific time before UVA exposure to help make the light therapy work better by making the applied area more sensitive to light. After taking or applying psoralen, you expose the affected areas to a light booth with UVA lamps.

How it is used
PUVA therapy is usually given 1 to 4 times a week.

Side effects of PUVA
Common side effects of PUVA include increased sensitivity to sunlight, nausea, itching, skin redness, blistering, skin aging, and freckling.

Cataracts may also occur if eyes are not protected for 12 to 24 hours after treatment, so the doctor will give you protective glasses to wear during and after treatment. There is also an increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer because of UVA exposure, so doctors (usually dermatologists) must supervise and advise on limiting the amount of PUVA therapy.

Many side effects are manageable. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are experiencing any side effects.

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UVB

How it works
UVB stands for ultraviolet B light. UVB light therapy involves using a UV lamp that emits a short wavelength of UV light that penetrates the outmost layer of skin. This slows down the fast overgrowth of skin cells to help clear psoriasis. UVB therapy includes two types: narrowband and broadband. The main difference between the two is that narrowband UVB light lamps emit a smaller range of UVB light.

How it is used
UVB therapy is usually given 1 to 5 times a week.

Side effects of UVB light therapy
Common side effects include increased sensitivity to sunlight and sunburn, skin irritation, skin redness, and blistering. There is also an increased risk of skin cancer because of UVB exposure, so doctors (usually dermatologists) must supervise and advise on limiting the amount of UVB therapy.

Many side effects are manageable. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are experiencing any side effects.

With all treatments, it is very important to follow the directions provided by your doctor or pharmacist.

The best treatment for you may depend on the severity of your psoriasis. Be sure to consult the DLQI (Dermatology Life Quality Index) to determine the impact of your condition and work with your doctor to choose the most satisfactory treatment option.

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