How Phototherapy Can Help Your Skin

Phototherapy on someone's hand How Phototherapy Can Help Your Skin

Phototherapy has become a popular treatment method for numerous skin conditions. Used in both cosmetic and medical procedures, phototherapy just may be the best treatment option.

What to Know About Phototherapy

What Is Phototherapy?

Phototherapy is a skin treatment method that uses light exposure from a specific source like LED, UV light, hologram light, or fluorescent light to treat skin conditions, mood and sleep disorders, and even cancer. For treatment of skin conditions, there are two main types of phototherapy, Narrowband Ultraviolet B (UVB) and Psoralen Ultraviolet A (PUVA).

UVB phototherapy uses type B ultraviolet light to treat conditions that create skin eruptions like psoriasis and eczema. UVB light is similar to the ultraviolet light that is emitted from the sun that is responsible for sunburns. But don’t let that scare you. UVB phototherapy is a controlled treatment that is highly effective as an eczema and psoriasis treatment. Conditions like psoriasis and eczema respond well to UVBphototherapy because UVB rays essentially fry the immune cells responsible for the skin condition. When the cells are zapped and rendered useless, the symptoms of the condition are significantly reduced. If you need a psoriasis or eczema treatment, your dermatologist will let you know if this is the right treatment for you.

Psoralen-UVA (PUVA), on the other hand, is used to treat conditions like vitiligo and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. This method relies on the use of psoralen. Psoralen is an oral drug that, when taken, makes the skin photosensitive. This photosensitivity helps the skin become more receptive to the UVA light that is exposed during treatment. While PUVA may effectively treat the condition, the side effects from psoralen makes this a less sought after treatment and almost always used as a last resort. Side effects include nausea, redness, skin burns, itching, blisters, darkening of skin, headache, dizziness, and stinging sensations.

Should You Get Phototherapy?

Despite the possible side effects, phototherapy can still be a wise option for treatment, especially if you and your dermatologist opt for UVB. Phototherapy isn’t for everyone, however. Those who are sensitive to sunlight, like those with systemic lupus erythematosus, should not partake in phototherapy. It also isn’t suitable for people who take medications that increase your sensitivity to sunlight. Individuals who have an eye condition may also be damaged by the light emitted during phototherapy. To determine if phototherapy is right for you, talk to your doctor.

What Can You Expect?

If you are a good candidate for phototherapy, you will prepare for treatment by applying sunscreen to all exposed areas of the body. Any areas that will not be treated will be completely covered. During the treatment, you will stand or sit inside a light box. You may be in the box anywhere from several seconds to a few minutes. You’ll need to complete treatment multiple times a week to achieve desired results. With UVB treatment, there may be mild side effects like slight redness, irritation, and stinging, however, they should fade over time.


Deciding on phototherapy for treatment isn’t an easy decision. If you’re in the Cincinnati, Ohio area then our experts at The Dermatology Group are here to help you see if phototherapy is right for you. We’ll also give you advice, resources, and more. Give us a call today!

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