Phototherapy: UVB Treatment for Skin Conditions
Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is a type of light responsible for developing vitamin D in the human body. UVB radiation also has therapeutic properties and can be useful for treating a variety of skin conditions. This blog post will discuss phototherapy, specifically UVB treatment, and its use in treating various skin conditions.
Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is a treatment that uses exposure to specific types of light to treat certain conditions. The most common type of phototherapy uses ultraviolet (UV) light through lamps, panels, or other devices. UV light has bactericidal and germicidal effects, making it helpful in treating skin conditions.
Phototherapy uses exposure to specific wavelengths of light to treat dermatological conditions like acne, psoriasis, and vitiligo. The particular wavelength of light used depends on the condition. For example, blue light is often used to treat acne because it helps to kill bacteria that can cause breakouts.
Artificial light sources, like LED lights or fluorescent bulbs, or natural light sources, like sunlight can deliver phototherapy. Phototherapy influences the body’s production of certain chemicals. Some studies have also suggested that exposure to specific light colors can help stimulate cell growth and repair.
Psoriasis and Phototherapy
It is most commonly used to treat psoriasis, which causes the skin to form patches of red, scaly skin. Although phototherapy can treat other conditions, it is most effective for treating psoriasis. UV light helps to slow the production of skin cells, which reduces the formation of scaly patches. In addition, UV light helps to reduce inflammation and itching.
Acne and phototherapy
Phototherapy, or light therapy, is a treatment that uses unique lights to kill the bacteria that cause acne. Blue light therapy is the most common type of phototherapy used to treat acne. Blue light therapy works by penetrating the skin and targeting the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes, which is responsible for causing inflammation and redness.
The light energy from the blue light targets the bacteria and destroys it without harming the surrounding tissue. Studies have shown that blue light therapy can be an effective acne treatment, with patients seeing a significant reduction in acne breakouts after just a few sessions.
Vitiligo and phototherapy
Vitiligo is a skin disorder that causes the loss of skin color in patches. The exact cause of vitiligo is unknown, but doctors believe it to be an autoimmune condition. Phototherapy is a treatment that uses controlled exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light to treat vitiligo. Studies have shown that phototherapy can effectively depigment the skin and improve the appearance of vitiligo.
There are two main types of phototherapy: narrow-band UVB therapy and PUVA therapy. Narrow-band UVB therapy involves exposing the skin to UVB light for a specific time each day. PUVA therapy consists in taking a photosensitizing medication and exposing the skin to UVA light. Both types of phototherapy are typically given regularly for several months. However, in some cases, the treatments continue indefinitely.
Eczema and phototherapy
Eczema is a chronic skin condition that causes the skin to become dry, itchy, and inflamed. Phototherapy helps reduce the symptoms of eczema. Studies have shown that phototherapy can be an effective treatment for eczema and has few side effects.
UV light helps to reduce inflammation and itching, and it also helps to reduce the growth of bacteria on the skin. Phototherapy is usually done 3-5 weekly for several weeks or months.
The number of sessions will depend on the severity of eczema. Phototherapy is a safe and effective treatment for eczema. It can help improve the quality of life for those suffering from this condition.
Phototherapy treatments are typically performed three times per week for several weeks or months. The time required for treatment varies depending on the target condition. Some people may see results after just a few treatments. In contrast, others may need to continue treatment for several months to see significant improvement. Phototherapy is generally safe when performed under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
However, discussing the risks and benefits of this treatment with your healthcare provider before starting the therapy is essential.
Side effects of phototherapy
The most common side effect of phototherapy is sunburn. This can occur even when people take precautions to protect the skin, such as wearing sunscreen and avoiding prolonged exposure to UV light. Skin irritation is another possible side effect of phototherapy. This can range from mild discomfort to more severe problems like blistering and inflammation.
Finally, there is a small but real risk of developing skin cancer from phototherapy. This risk is highest for people who have a history of skin cancer or who are already at increased risk for the disease. While one should not take the potential side effects of phototherapy lightly, the benefits of this treatment option may outweigh the risks for many people.
Future of phototherapy
As the field of dermatology continues to evolve, new and innovative treatment options are being developed to address various skin conditions. One promising area of research is phototherapy, which involves using ultraviolet (UV) light to trigger a therapeutic response in the skin. Although UV light is most commonly associated with sun damage, recent studies have shown that it can also be useful for treating conditions such as psoriasis, vitiligo, and acne.
In addition, phototherapy is an effective way to improve the overall appearance of aging skin. As research into the benefits of phototherapy continues, this treatment will likely become an increasingly popular option for dermatologists and their patients.
Light therapy is an excellent option for dermatology patients. If you’re looking for a treatment that is safe, non-invasive and doesn’t require surgery, then light therapy may be the right choice for you. Talk to your doctor about whether this treatment might be a good fit for your needs.
- Hönigsmann H. (2013). History of phototherapy in dermatology. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences : Official Journal of the European Photochemistry Association and the European Society for Photobiology, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1039/c2pp25120e
- Trzmiel D;Brzezińska-Wcisło L;Krauze E;Lis-Swiety A. (2022). [Phototherapy in dermatology]. Przeglad Lekarski, 62(12). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16786794/
- Rathod. (2022, May 8). Phototherapy. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33085287/
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The Specialist doctor from the University Hospital in Gothenburg, alumnus UC Berkeley. My doctoral dissertation is about Digital Health and I have published 5 scientific articles in teledermatology and artificial intelligence and others.