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Ultraviolet Light Therapy For Eczema

Preparing For Light Therapy

UV-therapy device for treatment of psoriasis, eczema and vitiligo on hands and feet

Your phototherapist is likely to ask you to follow certain rules during light therapy treatment. These may include the following.

  • Limit your exposure to any additional ultraviolet light cover your skin when out in sunlight, and dont use sunbeds.
  • Dont eat a lot of foods that contain natural psoralen, as these can make you more sensitive to ultraviolet light. These include celery, carrots, figs, citrus fruits, parsnips and parsley. Avoid these foods for at least two hours before a session.
  • Dont use perfumed products, creams, ointments and lotions on treatment days, unless told to by your phototherapist.
  • Dont cut your hair during your course of treatment as you may expose skin that was previously covered by hair.

Before a treatment session, let your phototherapist know about any new medicines youve started taking . This is because some medicines can make your skin more sensitive to light.

The psoralen you take for Psoralen ultraviolet A light therapy can interact with medicines for other conditions, such as warfarin and antipsychotics. These may need to be monitored during your therapy. Psoralen can also increase your response to caffeine and give you headaches or make you jittery. Your phototherapist may advise cutting down on drinks containing caffeine on the days you have light therapy treatment.

Knowing The Risks Of Uv Light Therapy

While those who have benefited from UV light therapy are quick to sing its praises, Dr. Jack points out that its important for patients to understand that there can be certain risks involved.

When youre being monitored by a doctor, you have a lowered risk of side effects, but they can still occur, he says.

Some of the most common side effects of UV light therapy are:

  • Burning or stinging sensation after treatments
  • Premature aging of the skin, particularly for people with fair skin
  • Sunburn

Whats The Outlook For People Who Have Phototherapy For Eczema

Depending on the severity of your eczema and your response to this treatment, light therapy sessions may last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, according to the AADA.

The AADA also emphasizes that you will need treatments two to three times per week on average. The technician will gradually increase the intensity at each treatment session.

Its important to make all of your appointments, as skipping sessions could alter the treatment effects.

While phototherapy may help treat eczema rashes that dont respond to medications, some people still need to use topical creams and ointments combined with this treatment.

It may also be helpful to use an eczema cream or ointment every day for maintenance. Look for products that wont irritate your skin. Theyre free of:

  • fragrances
  • dyes
  • perfumes

According to the National Eczema Association, you may see results in a few weeks, but it can take up to 2 months to see significant changes.

You should talk with your doctor if youre not seeing improvements despite phototherapy. Also, call them if youre experiencing any side effects or worsening symptoms.

After experiencing positive results, your eczema may be in remission. Since atopic dermatitis is a lifelong condition, its possible that you might need future phototherapy treatments if you experience a severe flare-up again.

Its important not to substitute this treatment with:

  • indoor tanning beds

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Outcome Of Phototherapy For Eczema

In many instances, physicians prefer the administration of light therapy. Said medical professionals opine the endeavor is safe and elicits fewer side effects than those produced by drug preparations commonly prescribed to remedy the condition. That said, phototherapy does possess certain risks such as skin burning, skin damage , as well as untoward symptoms like headaches and nausea. However, these manifestations are typically only experienced by those receiving UVA phototherapy .

Is Phototherapy Suitable For Children

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Yes, provided the child is old enough to stand in the light unit by him or herself without getting frightened. Children should visit the unit beforehand to see the light units and understand what they need to do. Initially, treatment is just for a few seconds and children quickly get used to the routine. The parent can remain by the unit and talk to the child, and sometimes there is a window they can see each other through. Parents are occasionally allowed in the unit for the first few treatments until the child gets used to it.

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Is It Safe To Treat Eczema With Uv Light Therapy

For the many people who suffer from eczema, finding relief can be a constant challenge. Flare-ups can come and go without warning, causing chronic itching and symptoms that can range from a rash to open sores and skin infections.

Just as the symptoms vary, so do the treatments, which depend upon the individual and the severity of your condition. Theres no one-size-fits-all solution, but if you suffer from more extreme symptoms, you might benefit from UV light therapy, which also is referred to as phototherapy.

This isnt a treatment thats right for everyone, but it can be a huge relief for people who are living with severe symptoms of eczema, says Dr. Alex Jack, a board-certified dermatologist at U.S. Dermatology Partners Kyle in Kyle, Texas. It has shown a great deal of promise for people who have atopic dermatitis, which is the most common type of eczema and can be very difficult to treat.

Understanding how UV light therapy works, what it can do for you and learning the potential risks and outcomes can help you and your dermatologist decide if this is the right type of treatment for your condition and whether you can use it to manage your eczema effectively.

What Are The Adverse Effects Of Uvb Phototherapy

Sometimes uncomfortable sunburn will occur, at its worst about 8 hours after treatment. This fades over the next few days and should be treated with frequent and liberal emollients.

The effect of UVB is similar to the effects of sun exposure. Excessive exposure contributes to ageing skin and to the risk of skin cancer.

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How Light Therapy Works To Help Treat Eczema

Years ago, doctors used three types of eczema phototherapy, but these days one has come out on top. The most common form of phototherapy is narrowband UVB, which has largely replaced other forms of phototherapy such as broadband UVB and PUVA, says Page. Dr. Guttman-Yassky adds, Narrowband UVB may be best as its safe and effective.

Different Types Of Uv Treatment For Eczema

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There are three different forms of UV light for eczema. These include:

Broadband UVB Phototherapy

Those undergoing this particular form of treatment are administered Ultraviolet B waves from a laser. Impacted persons are given a course of anywhere from 20 to 30 treatments that are administered while they are standing inside a light box.

UVA Phototherapy

This variation of laser treatment for eczema involves the administration of Ultraviolet A waves into the skin of impacted persons. As with UVB phototherapy, recipients are given light treatments inside a light box. However, prior to each session, said individuals are required to ingest an oral medication known as Psoralen, which is thought to better prepare the skin for UV ray absorption. This treatment is given three times per week over a period typically lasting anywhere from three to four months.

Narrowband UVB Phototherapy

Narrowband UVB laser treatment for eczema is administered in similar fashion to the other forms of light therapy. However, said procedure involves the usage of a smaller fraction of the UVB spectrum, which enables recipients to be exposed to lesser amounts of radiation and potentially experience fewer side effects.

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Ultraviolet Light Therapy Eczema

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What Are The Side Effects Of Phototherapy

It is normal for people to experience some mild redness within 24 hours of treatment. This usually fades quickly and, if not associated with discomfort, treatment will continue as planned. Despite efforts to prevent burning i.e. by testing the skins sensitivity to light using controlled incremental doses for each treatment, careful skin assessments and asking about any side effects at each visit occasionally sunburn-type reactions may occur with all types of phototherapy. If this happens, it is important to contact the hospital for appropriate advice. Burning that lasts more than 24 hours is considered to be an adverse effect. In this situation you need to be reviewed by the staff looking after you.

Dryness of the skin is also a common side effect, so it is important to use your emollients after treatment.

Sometimes psoralen tablets can cause nausea again, adjustments can be made in relation to the type of psoralen tablet to try to prevent this side effect of treatment. Taking the psoralen with food can also help minimise nausea. Try to eat the same amount of food with each tablet to ensure similar absorption and efficacy at each treatment session.

Occasionally eczema may flare at the beginning of a course of phototherapy. This can usually be managed by making adjustments to doses and using topical corticosteroids and emollients to settle the flare.

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What Is Ultraviolet Light

In nature UV radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that reaches Earth from the sun. UV wavelengths are classified as UVA, UVB or UVC. UVC has the shortest rays and is mostly absorbed by the ozone layer, so does not reach Earth. Both UVA and UVB penetrate the atmosphere . UV light is important for health but it is also responsible for tanning and burning the skin.

Side Effects Of Uv Light Therapy

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There are some potential side effects to having UV light treatment. They are more likely to occur in PUVA treatment, because of the use of psoralen, making your skin more sensitive.

The short term effects can usually be easily remedied.

  • Redness of the skin. The skin will be a little red after the treatment. If the skin displays the signs of sunburn like blistering or hotness, contact the treatment centre
  • Skin dryness. May occur during and for a little time after. It is recommended to apply an emollient. It needs to be applied to the whole body, preferably at least twice a day
  • A rash. Sometimes develops. Again contact the treatment centre if one does
  • Inflammation of the hair follicles. Also known as folliculitis. It is not painful and is easily treated
  • Itchy skin. Can occur during the first two weeks. Using an emollient and an antihistamine may be helpful

There are 2 main long term effects which can occur. There is only a small chance of being affected if there is a very frequent use of UV light therapy.

  • Skin cancer. There is a risk if you have more than 200 treatments. Just like sunlight, if you have a lot of exposure to it, it can be very damaging
  • Ageing of the skin. If you have frequent doses it can cause changes in the skin. Wrinkles and freckles may appear

A treatment centre will usually only allow you to have a certain number of treatments in a lifetime. This is to minimize the risk of any damage.

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Purpose Of Ultraviolet Light Therapy

This treatment is used to manage certain skin diseases and infections. It can result in improvement of your symptoms, and it can cure certain skin infections. However, when used for chronic inflammatory disease, the effects of ultraviolet light therapy might be temporary, and the condition can recur months or years after treatment is stopped.

Conditions treated with ultraviolet light therapy include:

Ultraviolet light therapy is considered a first-line therapy for CTCL and Sézary Syndrome, and a second-line therapy for mycosis fungoides and graft versus host disease.

This treatment can prolong survival in CTCL, but outcomes are not as easily measured when it comes to skin conditions that cause discomfort and unwanted changes in the skins appearance, like psoriasis.

Ultraviolet light therapy has also been studied for treatment of lupus, a systemic inflammatory disease that causes a range of symptoms. Additionally, it has been used for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder, a mood disorder that is associated with lack of sunlight.

Eczema: Light Therapy And Oral Medications

Eczema can usually be kept at bay by moisturizing your skin enough, applying anti-inflammatory ointments or creams, and avoiding irritants. If this isn’t enough, light therapy with UV rays or treatment with tablets can be considered.

Some people have such severe flare-ups that using ointments or creams to reduce the inflammation doesn’t relieve the symptoms enough. During acute phases like this, light therapy may be used. If this doesn’t work well enough either, tablets that suppress the body’s immune response are an option.

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How Does Light Help Skin Conditions

Phototherapy helps your skin make more vitamin D, which can ease inflammation, fight skin tumors, and help wounds heal. It helps your skin fend off bacteria that cause disease. It can heal chronic skin conditions like eczema, or just calm them down for a while.

Phototherapy treatments use different kinds of light. Ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays can calm inflammation and soothe itchy skin. Narrowband UVB light is the most common eczema treatment.

Some phototherapy treatments use only blue-green light rays, not ultraviolet light. Blue-green rays can help babies with jaundice. They break up a substance in their blood called bilirubin that makes their skin or eyes turn yellow. Once the extra bilirubin is blasted into smaller bits, the babyâs body can absorb it and the yellow goes away.

What Are The Treatment Options For Dyshidrotic Eczema Caused By Ultraviolet A Light

Phototherapy for healing eczema. Light therapy.

In a case series, three patients with histories of frequent pompholyx exacerbations, mostly during summer , were subjected to photoprovocation testing, with positive development of pompholyx lesions in two of them. Patients reported lesions after exposure to solar-simulated ultraviolet radiation and broadband UVA. They were treated with photoprotective measures in addition to the standard treatment for pompholyx, resulting in a decrease in the frequency and severity of the exacerbations. These authors suggested that the skin condition may be underdiagnosed and recommended recognition and early detection to institute sun protection as soon as possible and to avoid starting phototherapy or photochemotherapy in this particular subset of pompholyx patients.

Of interest, UVB phototherapy and photochemotherapy are well-known, efficient treatments for pompholyx.

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Who Is A Candidate For Uv Light Therapy

In addition to the skin conditions mentioned above, it is reported that UV light can also help improve some depression disorders, especially the seasonal type known as Seasonal Affective Disorder , which responds very well to sunlight exposure. Candidates are patients with no skin cancers and those who are not taking any photosensitive medications.

How Light Therapy Treats Eczema

Sunlight contains ultraviolet light. Excessive sun exposure is a leading cause of sun damage and skin cancer, but sunlight can also reduce symptoms of certain skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.

Light therapy is FDA-approved for eczema, and it combines the benefits of natural sunlight with medical expertise. Its different from simply spending time in the sun, because it involves controlled exposure to specific wavelengths of UV light.

Also called phototherapy, light therapy primarily uses UVB wavelengths. Your patches of eczema are exposed to the light for a specific time from a few seconds to a few minutes and the UVB rays work to reduce inflammation and extra skin cell buildup on your skin.

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Different Kinds Of Light Therapy

There are different kinds of light with different wavelengths, known as UVA rays and UVB rays. Treatment of nowadays mostly uses what is known as narrowband UVB phototherapy. Here the skin is only exposed to UVB rays with a wavelength of 311 to 313 nanometers. Limiting the light spectrum in this way reduces the risk of side effects.

There is also another option called psoralen plus ultraviolet A therapy. This involves taking the medication psoralen first, in order to make your skin more sensitive to light. Then, about two hours later, the skin is exposed to UVA rays. Alternatively, a psoralen cream or gel can be applied to the affected areas of skin first.

As well as using the right wavelength of light, the right dose and duration of light therapy has to be determined too. Many different factors play a role here, including what kind of skin you have, the type and number of previous treatments, whether you have had other medical conditions such as skin cancer, and whether you are taking medication that makes your skin more sensitive to light, like NSAIDs or . So it’s a good idea to find a doctor who has a lot of experience with light therapy.

There are also other kinds of light therapy, such as UVA1 phototherapy and balneo-phototherapy. Balneo-phototherapy is a combination of bathing and UV light therapy. You can either be exposed to the UV light while bathing or after bathing.


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