Phototherapy uses UVB or UVA light to reduce skin inflammation. This minimally invasive treatment is customized for each patient and, whenever feasible, delivered to the targeted areas while protecting surrounding unaffected skin.
Phototherapy treatments are performed quickly and conveniently in our Danbury office, taking just a few seconds to minutes. Common indications for phototherapy include: psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, diffuse pruritus (generalized itching), and cutaneous T cell lymphoma. Effective treatment usually requires multiple sessions, administered up to three times a week until clearance and/or control of symptoms is achieved. Your doctor will decide whether or not this treatment is right for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition. Since some drugs may increase the risk of burning with phototherapy, please keep us up to date on all of your prescription and over-the-counter medications including herbal remedies and vitamins. This is especially important if you add a new medication such as an antibiotic during therapy. In addition, let us know if you have a condition that makes you more prone to burning such as lupus, porphyria or a history of sun-induced rashes or skin burning.
Narrow-band UVB phototherapy uses filtered ultraviolet B light, screening out unwanted harmful wavelengths while concentrating the band of UVB (311-312 nanometers) that is most effective at treating psoriasis. Narrow-band UVB clears psoriasis faster than the older broad-band UVB light boxes and is a much safer alternative to PUVA treatment (psoralen plus UVA phototherapy). Patients generally receive narrow-band UVB phototherapy treatments 2-3 times per week for at least 10 weeks. Exposure time begins at a few seconds and increases with each session. Session lengths are tailored to the patient’s skin type and tolerance. After the skin has cleared, UVB phototherapy may be continued to prolong remission time, or patients may switch to other maintenance treatments to minimize their exposure to ultraviolet light.
While considered safer than many alternatives, narrow-band UVB has been linked to potential complications, including burning, premature skin aging and an increased risk of skin cancer, especially with long-term exposure.
For psoriasis, phototherapy is especially useful for patients who do not respond to topical medications alone or may not be candidates for immunosuppressive medications. In most cases, phototherapy will be used in conjunction with other treatments such as topical corticosteroids, calcipotriene, or an oral vitamin-A-like drug called acitretin. Phototherapy is usually administered to psoriasis patients 2-3x per week for at least 1 month and often longer. Results may be seen within two weeks of starting treatment and will improve as treatment continues. Most patients see effective relief from this minimally invasive, FDA-approved treatment. Since missing treatments will reduce results and increase the risk of burning, you must stick to a regular phototherapy schedule. In selected cases of hand and foot psoriasis (and eczema), we may also suggest topical PUVA — a treatment combining the topical application of a drug called psoralen with UVA exposure.
Eczema is a term used to describe a group of inflammatory skin conditions that result in chronic, relapsing, itchy rashes. About 15 million people in the United States suffer from some form of eczema. There is no known cause for the condition, but it appears to involve an overactive immune system in the presence of certain materials and often occurs in people susceptible to allergies. Phototherapy may improve your eczema symptoms, especially in cases where large surface areas are involved rendering topical treatment impractical. In cases of severe eczema, the best results are seen through a combination of therapies.
Vitiligo is a common autoimmune skin condition in which pigment cells are attacked by your own immune cells, resulting in white patches of skin. Hair growing in these areas may turn white as well. Vitiligo can affect any area of the skin, but is most common on the face, lips, hands, arms, legs and genital areas.
At Advanced DermCare, we offer narrow-band phototherapy for the treatment of widespread vitiligo. With the right combination of gentle, gradually increased light treatments and topical therapies, impressive repigmentation can often be accomplished.