Psoriasis Treatment With Phototherapy
Psoriasis Treatment Through Phototherapy
Psoriasis treatment can be quite difficult, especially because there is no absolute cure for the condition. However, psoriasis can be effectively controlled, and phototherapy is one of the ways to keep the disease under check. Phototherapy not only helps in controlling psoriasis, but also plays an important role in improving your skin’s overall health. The procedure involves exposing the sufferer to controlled ultraviolet light, of course under a health expert’s supervision.
The advantages of sunlight exposure has been proved overtime, and it is quite well known that an individual suffering from skin patches can treat the condition with regular but brief sunlight exposures. The process became even more popular with the passage of time, so much so that scientists invented devices which were capable of replicating certain parts of the sun’s ultraviolet spectrum. The UV light which the sun emits comprises both of UVA and UVB rays, and while both of these have properties than help in clearing psoriasis patches, UVB rays have been shown to be a preferred treatment choice.
The UV light used in the process of phototherapy is between 290-400nm. The affected areas of the skin are exposed to UV light in frequent but short sessions, and this accelerates the healing phase. With the passage of time, however, most sufferers experience improvement in their condition or elimination of the symptoms, and this eventually goes on to relieve the patients from psoriasis.
Psoriasis has various levels, and thus the options of treatment have to be determined based on these levels. In addition to considering these levels, your doctor will also consider the affected areas of your body and severity levels of the disease. Needless to say, patients suffering from more severe symptoms will have different treatment options available for them, in contrast to those being treated with milder cases of psoriasis.
UVB light treatment
UVB light treatment is an effective treatment option, and the sessions typically take place twice or even thrice a week, depending on the severity of psoriasis in your case. The therapy, however, must be done under the su0eprvision of a professional, since prolonged exposure can lead to sunburns, and even cause significant damage to the skin. Results must not be expected immediately, and your doctor will also study the response of your skin towards the therapy. Depending on this response, treatment of psoriasis may take up to 6-8 weeks. Similar to some other forms of treatment, the effect that this treatment has on patients vary from one individual to another.
In situations a patient does not respond too well to this therapy, the doctor may recommend PUVA therapy. This is a form of phototherapy, although more intense than the one previously mentioned. This is precisely why this form of treatment is suggested to people suffering from widespread psoriasis. In addition to using UVA light, doctors also make use of Psoralen, a photosensitizing condition which should be consumed in the oral form. The medication works to enhance the skin sensitivity so that it becomes more responsive to the light rays. As this treatment option is relatively more intense, there are fewer sessions required, and the process also reportedly is more consistent in treating psoriasis-affected skin. The remission period for PUVA therapy typically lasts for up to a year after the therapy.
Although phototherapy works to improve your skin’s health, treatment of psoriasis using this procedure is not entirely risk-free. The most common concern is overexposure. This is a common issue that must be taken care of in any procedure which involves exposing the skin to a light source. Some other problems which have to be taken care of are sunburns and melanoma, since they can invite a host of other issues when triggered. If you are considering a natural sun exposure, it is suggested that you apply an effective sun block on areas which have not been affected by the condition. The midday sun is the most intense, and it is best to limit your exposure time to an hour. You will want to start with 25-30 minutes per session, and then gradually increase it with 5-10 extra minutes per session.
Your skin’s health is of utmost importance, and this is one more reason why monitored and controlled UV light exposure is essential. Phototherapy sessions ideally take place at the doctor’s office, and under the observation of a professional. The intensity and wavelength of the light is pre-decided for use with the skin. Interestingly, some patients may also purchase home phototherapy units for treating psoriasis at their own place, but they will have to have a doctor’s prescription which allows them to purchase these devices. Phototherapy units come in a variety of shapes and sizes, giving some choices to patients when buying these units for their home. Nevertheless, supervision of a professional is imperative for recovery.
The medical community now has enhanced the use of light therapy. An increasing number of doctors now use lasers instead of traditional phototherapy devices. The advantage of using lasers is that it can be targeted on the affected areas, while the unaffected areas are left untouched. Lasers typically make use of focused UVB rays, and are very helpful in minimizing side effects.
Phototherapy sessions must only be carried out in the presence of professionals and with proper devices. Some people feel tempted o treat psoriasis in tanning salons. This is actually a bad idea, since not only is the process unsupervised, but also because most tanning beds being used commercially only emit UVA light. In contrast, it is the UVB light which is the preferred choice when it comes to treating psoriasis.
This is the original phototherapy device, and is still in popular use today. A large majority of doctors worldwide believe it to be the best handheld device for practicing phototherapy. The advantages of Dermalight 80 include compact size and versatility that make it perfect for personal use or use in homes. This also enables it to be used in the treatment of psoriasis regardless of where it affects the body. This also includes the scalp, which can be treated using a special comb that comes attached with each Dermalight 80 unit. The device is built according to high medical standards, and comprise of standard UVB 311nm bulbs. You are free to choose between UVA or UVB bulbs, all at the same price.
Most doctors recommend Dermalight 80 for the treatment of psoriasis at home. Additionally, the device also comes in handy when treating other skin conditions such as eczema and vitiligo.
How to Enhance Phototherapeutic Effects
Effects of phototherapy differ from one patient to another, although it is still possible to enhance the effect of phototherapy in a patient. For example, your doctor may recommend a tar bath before exposing you to UVB light. Other physicians may recommend the use of other topical agents for the same purpose.
Furthermore, soaking your skin in lukewarm water for about 30 minutes before the therapy begins also helps in loosening the scales, thereby allowing an increased quantity of light to enter the skin.
There is no definite time period associated with the use of phototherapy devices. However, doctors expect the psoriasis lesions to clear up in about 5-6 weeks, provided the correct dose is administered.
In a statement given by the National Psoriasis Foundation based in Portland, Oregon, the clearance of psoriasis treated by UVB rays can range from a small number of days to even more than a year. This, however, is largely dependent on the response of the sufferer’s body. It generally takes about 20-30 treatments for a patient to treat psoriasis, and this remains fixed regardless of the number of sessions carried out per week. However, any patient who receives less than three phototherapy sessions on a weekly basis is likely to exhibit poor response. This also indicates that infrequent treatment or premature termination of the treatments can lead to their failure, and are in fact the two most infamous reasons for failure of psoriasis treatment.
Once the lesions have disappeared and your skin is clear, you may choose to stop phototherapy treatments. This can again be initiated when the lesions begin to reappear. It has, however, been observed that patients who regularly undergo phototherapy, even when the lesions have disappeared, tend to enjoy longer plaque-free gaps.
The National Psoriasis Foundation also conducted a study which revealed that UVB maintenance enhances clearance time. The study involved patients who were administered very modest dosage of the therapy (in the range of 6 treatments on a monthly basis), and this increased the remission period of the patients by an average of one and a half months.
The skills of your therapist are also important, of course. He or she must be well trained to administer proper dosage of the light. Less than recommended dosage will only give the patient an impressive tan, without having any effect on psoriasis. Similarly, too much UVB will cause itching and painful burns on the sufferer’s skin.
Although phototherapy has its own uses, there are a few disadvantages associated with it as well. Too much exposure to UVB can lead to numerous side effects such as skin cancer and premature aging. This is all the more applicable to patients with fairer skin or those with a medical history of diseases. It is, therefore, very important to be cautious when treating your skin. Any growth on the skin can be a sign of skin cancer, and must be brought to the attention of your doctor at the earliest.