Many doctors recommend phototherapy for adults with various skin conditions. This method is considered a safe and effective treatment. What is phototherapy, and what are its benefits?
What Is Phototherapy
Phototherapy is a type of medical treatment that uses exposure to sources of artificial ultraviolet (UV) light. It is used for skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, and many more. While UV rays in sunlight can cause cancer, phototherapy uses certain selected types of UV light so that it doesn’t endanger the skin. There are three main types of phototherapy for adults.
- Narrowband UVB
This treatment uses only a small part of ultraviolet-B (UVB) light radiation to treat the skin. It’s the most common type of light therapy that dermatologists use.
- Broadband UVB (BBUVB)
Unlike narrowband UVB treatment, BBUVB treats skin conditions using the entire spectrum of UVB light radiation. It’s less intense than narrowband UVB.
- Psolaren Ultraviolet-A (PUVA)
This method combines a chemical called psolaren and UVA light. Psolaren is usually prescribed as a pill or a topical cream. Psolaren also makes your skin more sensitive to the UVA light to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
PUVA is more intensive than the UVB method. Moreover, it has more side effects and is usually only used as the last resort if other treatments have been unsuccessful.
Consistent phototherapy has an effectiveness rate of 85% in reducing skin inflammation, itchiness, and the rate of skin cell growth. Phototherapy UV light also stimulates vitamin D production, which is good for your skin and overall health.
Studies have proven that phototherapy has minimum side effects. It’s generally safe for any adult, children, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Side Effects
While phototherapy is generally safe, side effects can still occur. It may cause redness, dry and itchy skin, and blisters. Make sure to moisturize regularly to prevent it, particularly before your phototherapy sessions. PUVA may also cause nausea.
In the long term, phototherapy can lead to skin cancer and premature skin aging if you already have certain health conditions or are taking photosensitive drugs. So, always check with your dermatologist first.
- Time Consuming
Phototherapy is effective to ease your skin disorder, but the effects are usually temporary. People who want to try phototherapy for adults have to be very consistent with the therapy as it will take many visits until the results are evident.