UVB phototherapy can be an effective choice for treating psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo and other skin conditions that have not responded to other treatment methods. UVB stands for ultraviolet B light or middle wave ultraviolet light, which has a slightly greater frequency than visible light.
UVB has been used for over fifty years to treat a variety of skin disorders, however the exact reason UVB improves many skin diseases is not known. UVB light treatment is given 2-3 times per week for 12-15 weeks. After 15 weeks, maintenance therapy is often required once a week.
Are there any side effects of UVB Phototherapy?
There are some adverse reactions to be aware of when it comes to this type of light therapy:
Skin burning or blistering occurs about 1-2% of the time. Redness of the skin is more common, occurring in 4-8% of cases. Lastly, tanning or darkening of the skin is always an end result.
Most of the side effects are temporary. People who have had UVB treatment may have an increased risk of skin cancer. UVB causes the skin to look older (photo aging). UVB can also cause white and brown spots to appear on the skin.
How does UVB Phototherapy work?
UVB therapy works very similarly to PUVA therapy which is also quite effective for psoriasis and related skin conditions. When you visit your dermatologists office, you will remove your clothes and stand in a 5 x 7 foot box. The lights are switched on for a period of 1-10 minutes, and each time you go the doctor will typically increase the amount of time.
The eyes need to be protected at all times, and as such your doctor will give you protective googles to wear.
Some patients just get UVB, with a hand held unit, to one body location. If you fall in this category some of the above will not apply.
Keep in mind that sometimes phototherapy is not covered by your insurance, and even if it is, there may be a hefty co-pay. This is something to keep in mind when deciding if this procedure is right for you.