National Library of the Philippines
In phototherapy skin is exposed to an ultraviolet (UV) light source for a set amount of time to treat certain skin conditions. Ultraviolet lights are rays of light from the sun that are not visible. Phototherapy uses a man-made source of ultraviolet light for your treatment.
Types of Phototherapy
Broad band UVB – Effective light therapy treatment using UVB light (ultraviolet light, type B); cannot be used in areas where there are skin folds.
Narrow band UVB – Emits a narrower range of UVB wavelengths that can reach more specific areas, even skin folds.
PUVA – Treatment involves taking or using a medication called psoralen, a light-sensitizing medication, before exposure to UVA, ultraviolet light A. Psoralen can be taken orally (as a pill through your mouth) or applied to the skin. The psoralen makes your skin more sensitive to the ultraviolet light.
Xtrac laser – Emits an ultraviolet light that is even narrower than the Narrow Band UVB lights and can be directed at specific areas of the skin. Xtrac laser is a relatively new procedure.
Pulsed dye laser – Emits a different type of light than UVB and the Xtrac laser and is a new type of treatment for skin conditions.
Parts of the Body Involved
Skin – anywhere on the body
Reasons for Procedure
Skin conditions that are treated with phototherapy include:
Psoriasis – a skin disorder that causes itchy, scaly patches on the skin caused by rapidly multiplying skin cells.
Dermatitis – skin conditions due to some sort of inflammation of the skin.
Atopic dermatitis – Eczema (itchy, red skin condition) or dermatitis due to allergies.
Seborrheic dermatitis – Flaking skin condition that usually affects the scalp.
Phototherapy is also used on infants who are born with jaundice. Infants with jaundice usually have a yellow-ish tint to their skin and eyes. This yellow color is due to a problem with the liver. Infants with jaundice have elevated levels of bilirubin. Bilirubin, which is found in the blood, is usually changed by the liver into a form that can be removed from the body. Jaundice occurs when the liver is unable to keep up with the amount of bilirubin in the blood.
Risk Factors for Complications During the Procedure
- Allergy to sunlight
- Pregnancy or nursing
- Medical conditions (such as skin cancer) that require you to avoid the sun
- History of skin cancer
- Difficulty tolerating heat
- Liver disease (phototherapy may increase medicine levels in the blood)