Phototherapy is a modified version of climatotherapy. It uses natural sunlight which has been proven to treat various skin conditions.
During the last few decades, there is an increase in instances of skin cancer, including cases of malignant melanoma due to continuous exposure to sunlight. This has established phototherapy as a treatment method that uses only precise doses of ultra-violet (UV) light.
Phototherapy is the golden standard for treating psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema, and many other conditions and disorders known to be positively affected by sunlight (generalized itchiness, prurigo, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, lichen planus, mastocytosis, etc.).
When treating psoriasis, the UVB light prevents the accelerated cell division, leading to reduced inflammation and plaque formation.
When treating vitiligo, it suppresses the autoimmune cells and activates the so-called “sleeper” melanocytes surrounding the hair follicle. The melanocytes migrate to the skin’s surface and induce repigmentation.
When treating eczema, the UVB light has a suppressive effect on the autoimmune and allergic reactions occurring in the skin.
In the past, physicians used devices that emitted broadband UVB or UVA light. This posed a high risk of developing skin cancer. Nowadays, the old devices have been completely replaced by safe narrowband UVB phototherapy (NB-UVB).
What does the procedure involve?
The procedure takes 5-10 minutes including the preparation. The area is irradiated for a couple of seconds to 1-2 minutes. The dose is incremented with each subsequent visit, so the procedure’s duration increases accordingly by a couple of seconds. You will wear protective goggles during the procedure.
What are the contraindications?
Here are some relative contraindications for this procedure:
– uncontrolled hypertension
– children aged 5 years or less
– pregnancy and nursing
– family history of melanoma and skin cancer.
In summer, due to the large intake of UV light from the sun, phototherapy is used only for specific conditions. Possible side effects include redness similar to a sunburn, skin dryness and a burning sensation on the skin.
What is the recommended post-procedure care?
The recommended care is intensive skin hydration via creams or ointments and avoiding continuous exposure to sunlight.
How many procedures should I undergo and how often?
Depending on how the treatment affects you, the recommended treatment course consists of 30 procedures spaced out in a manner depending on the kind of condition you have – usually 2 to 5 times a week.