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Phototherapy or light therapy refers to the use of ultraviolet (UV) light to treat medical conditions. Natural sunlight has been known to be beneficial in certain skin disorders for thousands of years. It consists mainly of visible light, ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB) light. Phototherapy reproduces the action of sunlight in a scientific and controlled manner.
TYPES OF PHOTOTHERAPY
There are 3 main types of phototherapy:
This is usually combined with an oral or topical psoralen (a chemical that increases the effect of UVA on the skin) (PUVA).
HOW DOES PHOTOTHERAPY WORK?
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN BE TREATED WITH PHOTOTHERAPY?
UVB is used to treat common skin conditions such as psoriasis, atopic eczema, vitiligo and other forms of dermatitis.
WHAT DOES PHOTOTHERAPY INVOLVE?
Multiple treatment sessions are required before any improvement of the skin condition is visible. Once the skin lesions have cleared, periodic treatment (1x per week to 1x per fortnight) may be continued to maintain clearance.
The amount of skin exposed to the UVL will depend on the extent of your condition; patients will be required to wear UV protective goggles and hood; and for male patients the genitalia should also be covered. It is important to cover the same area for each treatment to prevent burning.
WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS OF PHOTOTHERAPY?
The short-term side effects include:
Potential long-term side effects include:
DO I NEED TO AVOID ANYTHING WHILST HAVING PHOTOTHERAPY?