What is UVB Phototherapy?
Phototherapy, also called light therapy, involves exposing skin in a whole body stand-up or compact hand and foot unit to narrow band UVB light on a regular basis and under medical supervision. This is a safe, effective and convenient treatment for a variety of skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo. Phototherapy devices use either the short wavelength Ultraviolet-B (UVB rays or the longer rays of Ultraviolet-A (UVA). Dermatologie Rejuvenation Clinic uses UVB “Narrowband” phototherapy devices for treating patients.
How Long Has Ultraviolet Phototherapy Treatment Been In Use?
The benefits of UV phototherapy for psoriasis was recognized by the medical community as early as 1925 by a study of the effects of natural sunlight on psoriasis patients. Devices to produce artificial light for the treatment of psoriasis have been in use for over 50 years and today there is a phototherapy clinic in most cities. Home units are a more recent phenomenon, as lower costs have made them more attainable to the average person. This remarkable ancient Egyptian wall carving shows a sick infant being treated
with sunlight, probably for infant jaundice (Hyperbilirubinaemia). Today, affected babies receive the same treatment, albeit from artificial light sources. The therapeutic rays are inthe UVA spectrum in this case. Our bodies evolved in an environment bathed in ultraviolet light, so we developed responses to use the light beneficially (Vitamin-D
photosynthesis) and to protect us from over-exposure (tanning). Our modern lifestyles; being fully clothed, having protection from the sun, and many of us living in extreme northern/southern latitudes; has significantly reduced our UV exposure and contributed to health problems in some.
Is UVB Phototherapy Covered by MSP?
Every treatment is covered by Medical Services Plan for B.C. residents.
Will UVB Phototherapy Work For Me?
UV phototherapy is a safe, effective and convenient treatment recommended for a variety of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. The best way to determine if UVB phototherapy will work for you is to first get a proper diagnosis from a Dermatologist, and, if warranted, take treatments at a phototherapy clinic near you to establish efficacy.
What is the difference between UVB “Broadband” and UVB “Narrowband”?
Conventional “Broadband” UVB bulbs emit light in a broad range that includes both the therapeutic wavelengths specific to the treatment of skin diseases plus the shorter wavelengths responsible for sunburning. Sunburning has a negative therapeutic benefit, increases the risk of skin cancer, and limits the amount of therapeutic UVB that can be
taken. “Narrowband” UVB bulbs, on the other hand, emit light over a very short range of wavelengths concentrated primarily in the therapeutic range. UVB Narrowband is therefore theoretically safer and more effective than UVB Broadband, but requires either longer treatment times or equipment with more bulbs to achieve the same dosage threshold. UVB Narrowband now dominates worldwide new equipment sales, but UVB Broadband will likely always have a role.
How Safe is Ultraviolet Phototherapy?
As with natural sunlight, repeated exposure to ultraviolet light can cause premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. However, when these risks are weighed against the risks of other treatment options, often involving strong prescription drugs, ultraviolet phototherapy is usually found to be the best treatment option.
How Do I Take a Treatment?
For the whole body stand-up unit, one of our trained staff enters the dosage amount into the device and the START button is pressed. The patient covers any areas of the body not requiring exposure and puts on the ultraviolet protective goggles. Stepping into the device, the patient closes two light panel doors and the lights go on. When the time is complete, the lights go off automatically. The patient then can open the doors and exit the device. Many people take their treatment immediately after a shower, which has the added benefit of exfoliating dead skin to improve light transmission to the lesions. For the hand and foot device, the procedure is similar, but positioning is different depending on hand/foot use.
How Often Are Treatments Taken and How Long Are The Treatment Times?
For psoriasis: during the “clearing” phase, treatments are taken 3 to 5 times per week. Treatment times are slowly increased with the number of exposures. The first treatments are only seconds long, working up to several minutes per side after forty or more exposures, and depending on the individual and physician advice. After significant
clearing is achieved, the “maintenance” phase begins; treatments are taken anywhere from three times per week to not at all and times are reduced accordingly. For vitiligo: treatments are usually taken twice per week, never on consecutive days. Treatment times are typically less than those for psoriasis. Eczema and other less common skin diseases and UVA require physician guidance for treatment times.
How Long Does it Take to Get Results?
This is of course an individual matter, but typically some remission is evident after only a few weeks. More advanced clearing requires two to six months. Long term low-dose maintenance can go on for years as determined by the supervising physician.