In phototherapy, the doctor uses ultraviolet (UV) light to treat various skin conditions. Phototherapy can involve the use of either UVA or UVB light, and the latter is used to treat psoriasis and eczema.
What is psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition in which skin cells grow too rapidly. As a result, they form thick, scaly patches that can be white, red or silver. The patches can occur anywhere but are most common on the elbows, back, tailbone, scalp and knees.
How is psoriasis treated?
Psoriasis can be treated with UVB light. There are several possible treatment methods involving UVB light.
The UVB light can be broadband or narrowband, and the latter is more precise, since the doctor uses only those wavelengths that affect the psoriasis. Regardless of method, the patient is exposed to the UVB light until their skin starts to turn pink. The patient may have phototherapy sessions several times a week until their psoriasis clears up.
UVB lasers can be used for stubborn psoriasis on the knees and elbows. The lasers used can be excimer lasers or pulsed dye lasers. The latter creates a beam of yellow light that becomes heat when it hits the skin. That heat then destroys the extra blood vessels that feed the psoriasis patches. The excimer laser directly targets the patches. Both types of laser treatments last 15 to 30 minutes.
What is eczema?
Eczema is one of several types of skin inflammation. Early symptoms include redness, itching, and crusting. Later on, the patient can develop scaly and discolored skin. It is often caused by an allergic reaction to an irritant.
The most common type of eczema is also called atopic dermatitis that usually starts in infancy and continues through childhood. While some people outgrow the condition, others continue to suffer with it as adults.
Other types of eczema include the following:
- Stasis dermatitis — eczema on the lower legs that is linked to circulatory problems
- Seborrheic eczema — scaly, oily yellowish skin patches that are usually on the scalp or face
- Nummular eczema — circular skin patches that can be crusted, itchy and scaly
- Neurodermatitis — eczema caused by a very localized itch like an insect bite. It can involve the head, lower legs, wrists and forearms.
How is eczema treated?
Eczema is usually treated with narrowband UVB light. Phototherapy is believed to help the eczema by reducing the itch, increasing Vitamin D production, reducing inflammation and stimulating the skin’s immune system to fight bacteria.
During the treatment, the patient may apply a moisturizing oil to their skin and stands in a cabinet while wearing protective goggles. The machine will be turned on, and the patient will be exposed to the light for a few seconds to a few minutes. The exposure time will be increased with each visit, depending on the patient’s response. Eczema may require several months of treatment.
If you are looking for a solution to eczema or psoriasis, contact Rao Dermatology today to schedule an appointment.