Dr. Hina Altaf Dermatologist

Phototherapy (Light Therapy)

Phototherapy (Light Therapy)

Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is a type of medical treatment that involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet (UV) light in a controlled environment. It is used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema, and other inflammatory skin disorders. 

How does phototherapy work?

The procedure works by exposing the skin to UV light, which can reduce inflammation and slow down the proliferation of skin cells. There are different types of UV light, including UV-A, UV-B, and narrowband UV-B. Narrowband UV-B is the most commonly used type of phototherapy, as it is more effective and has fewer side effects than other types of UV light.

There are two main types of phototherapy: ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA is used in combination with a photosensitizing medication to treat conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. UVB is used to treat psoriasis, vitiligo, and other skin conditions. Narrowband UV-B is a newer form of UVB that emits a more specific range of wavelengths that are most effective for treating skin conditions.

Treatment process

Before your phototherapy procedure, your provider will set up the equipment and give you protective eyewear to cover your eyes. You may need additional personal protective equipment depending on the location of your therapy to cover parts of your body that aren’t receiving treatment.   You may need to remove some or all of your clothing for this procedure depending on which area is being treated.

During the procedure, the patient stands or sits in a special booth or cabinet that emits the appropriate type and dose of UV light. 

How long does the procedure take?

The amount of exposure time and frequency of treatments will depend on the patient’s individual needs and the type of condition being treated. A typical course of treatment may involve several sessions per week for several weeks, followed by maintenance treatments as needed. Repeated treatments are needed for the best results. Your first session could last a few seconds and your final session could last a few minutes with UVB therapy and up to an hour for UVA therapy. The length of time you’re treated and the total number of treatments you need can vary greatly depending on the disease and your skin. Your provider will help figure out your personal treatment plan.

Phototherapy procedure aftercare

After the procedure, your provider will give you instructions on how you can protect your skin, which could include:

  • Wearing sunscreen on the treated areas of your skin and/or clothing to protect your skin from the sun.
  • Wearing eye protection when outdoors.
  • Using a moisturizer daily to prevent dry skin.
  • Avoiding sun exposure and avoiding tanning beds, which could increase your chances of a burn.

Potential side effects 

Like any medical treatment, it can have side effects. The most common side effect is skin redness, which usually goes away within a few hours. Other potential side effects include itching, dry skin, and increased risk of skin cancer with long-term exposure. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of light therapy with your healthcare provider and to follow all recommended safety guidelines.

Get in touch with your doctor if:

  • You have a burning sensation on your skin more than 24 hours after treatment.
  • You have flu-like symptoms (nausea, vomiting, fever or chills) after treatment.
  • Your skin blisters.
  • You have signs of an infection (a swollen wound that won’t heal, a crusty sore that leaks pus).

Light therapy can be an effective and safe treatment option for a variety of skin conditions. If you have a skin condition that may benefit from phototherapy, talk to your healthcare provider to determine if it is a suitable treatment option for your individual needs.

Minimal Downtime

You can return to your daily routine immediately after

Immediate Results

Results within 24 to 48 hours, with full results in 30 days

Painless Procedure

Brief period of discomfort during the injection, similar to a pinch

Results That Last

Effects typically last for several months

Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is a medical treatment that uses specific wavelengths of light to treat various skin conditions, including psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema, and certain types of dermatitis. It involves exposing the affected skin to ultraviolet (UV) light from artificial sources. The light helps to reduce inflammation, slow down the rapid growth of skin cells, and promote healing.
There are several types of phototherapy used in dermatology. There are two main types of phototherapy: ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB). UVA is used in combination with a photosensitizing medication to treat conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. UVB is used to treat psoriasis, vitiligo, and other skin conditions. Narrowband UV-B is a newer form of UVB that emits a more specific range of wavelengths that are most effective for treating skin conditions.
Phototherapy is generally considered safe when administered under medical supervision. However, there are potential risks and side effects associated with treatment. Short-term side effects may include redness, itching, dryness, and mild sunburn-like symptoms. Long-term risks may include skin aging, increased risk of skin cancer, and eye damage. It's crucial to follow the recommended treatment guidelines, protective measures, and undergo regular monitoring by a healthcare professional.
Phototherapy may be recommended for individuals with moderate to severe skin conditions that have not responded adequately to other treatments. Candidates for phototherapy may have psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema, or other skin conditions that are resistant to topical treatments. However, the suitability of phototherapy depends on various factors, including the type and severity of the condition, medical history, and individual characteristics. A dermatologist can assess your specific situation and determine if phototherapy is an appropriate treatment option for you.
The duration of phototherapy treatment varies depending on the specific skin condition, the type of phototherapy used, and individual response. Visible improvements may be seen after a few weeks of treatment, but it can take longer to achieve significant results. Response to phototherapy varies among individuals, and it's important to adhere to the treatment schedule and follow-up with your dermatologist to monitor progress.
Phototherapy

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Dr. Hinah Altaf’s clinic is currently at Gargash Hospital, 145 Umm Suqeim Street – Umm Al Sheif -Dubai.