If the medications you apply to your skin do not have the desired effect, your doctor may prescribe phototherapy to treat psoriasis. This technique uses ultraviolet rays from artificial lamps and lasers, similar to sunlight, to slow the growth of skin cells and relieve symptoms. Let’s talk in more detail about how light therapy occurs and what benefits it brings to the body.

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a disease that affects the human skin. There is no exact information about the causes of its occurrence, but this disease is associated with genetic and autoimmune factors. As the disease progresses, joints and other organs may be affected. A doctor can diagnose the disease using a standard skin lesion: red plaques with clear borders and white scales. In some cases, a biopsy is required to confirm the disease.

There are many different systemic and local methods for treating psoriasis, including phototherapy with UV lamps, here you can learn more about it. This technology is the traditional therapy for stable lesions that cover more than 10% of the skin surface.

How does phototherapy work for psoriasis?

Depending on what areas psoriasis affects, a person may undergo phototherapy on a specific part of the body, such as a leg or scalp, or throughout the body. On the day of therapy, it is necessary to stop using salicylic acid, as this reduces the effectiveness of treatment.

Before treatment, the medical professional will protect the most sensitive areas of the skin, that is, the eyes and genitalia. The dermatologist may ask you to bring factor 50+ sunscreen, which is applied before treatment.

The healthcare professional will then ask the person to enter a lightbox or shine an ultraviolet light directly onto the skin.

In some cases, before starting treatment, the doctor may prescribe psoralen treatment to the patient. These can be baths, creams, or tablets that are taken in advance.

Doctors usually recommend three phototherapy sessions over 4-12 weeks, but some patients undergo up to 5 sessions per week. If it is inconvenient for you to go to the doctor constantly, you can purchase a UV lamp for light therapy at home. In this case, you should consult your doctor to choose equipment suitable for treating psoriasis, not other skin diseases.

As sessions progress, their duration will increase. Between sessions, the skin will have time to recover.

Types of phototherapy

Different types of ultraviolet light for medical procedures differ in the kind of ultraviolet and the wavelength size. Most often, the following categories of phototherapy are used to treat psoriasis:

  • Ultraviolet B (UVB): it is one of the elements of sunlight that is particularly effective in treating psoriasis. It has a medium wavelength and reaches the top layer of the skin. During treatment, the patient is first exposed to light for a few seconds, and then the duration of the session is increased to several minutes. The most effective form of UVB radiation is NB-UVB, and dermatologists are using it more and more often.
  • Ultraviolet A (UVA) light is less effective than UVB but is also used in treating UVB. It has a long wavelength that reaches several layers of the skin. Such therapy usually takes longer – the exposure period can be 15-20 minutes, but with significant doses, it also effectively fights skin lesions.

If your psoriasis cannot be controlled with topical medications, consult your dermatologist about whether phototherapy is a good option. Never self-treat with a home phototherapy device without explicit instructions from your dermatologist, or you risk worsening your condition!