UVB (ultraviolet B light) is the most common form of phototherapy used to treat various skin diseases including psoriasis, eczema, and itching. You will be exposed to this high-energy UV light for a varying length of time. This treatment is NOT A CURE, but can effectively control or improve your disease. Patients have used this treatment successfully for many years and are often able to maintain clearer skin over extended periods of time.
The number of treatments needed per week varies depending upon the individual and his/her condition along with the amount of time that it will take to reach clearing. Most patients initially require 3-5 treatments each week to clear their lesions. Typically, treatments start with only a few seconds of light exposure and the dosage is increased gradually as determined by the physician. It may take 15-25 treatments or longer to improve your disease. Not all patients will clear completely. Many patients go into remission and may then stop the treatments.
The expected benefits of phototherapy are:
- Improvement of existing lesions.
- Reduction of new lesions.
- Remission - in many cases phototherapy has resulted in a near-total clearing of the disease process. The duration of this remission varies with each patient. Maintenance therapy may be required.
Risks and side-effects of phototherapy:
- The most common side-effect of this therapy is UVB-induced sunburn. This may occur at any time during therapy. Certain drugs may also cause you to get sunburnt. Please let your doctor/nurse know of any medications you are taking, or any that you begin while undergoing therapy.
- It is possible with any form of UV light that an increased incidence of skin cancer may occur later in some patients, usually only with many UV light treatments.
- UV treatments may cause dryness and itching.
- UV treatments age the skin over time and may increase freckles and pigmentation of the skin.
- Ultraviolet rays may damage the eyes and increase your risk of cataracts. This is preventable with protective eye goggles worn during treatment. These will be given to you and are required for treatment.
- UV light may cause a flare of fever blisters and mouth sores in susceptible people.
- Long-term UV exposure to the unprotected genital area in men may cause an increase in genital cancer. Therefore all men will wear an athletic supporter while in the light box.
- UV light may cause exacerbation of other medical conditions such as lupus erythematosus which causes a sensitivity to UV wavelength.