What is Phototherapy?
Phototherapy refers to the treatment of various skin conditions with light energy. Phototherapy as treatment began years ago when doctors noticed that patients with psoriasis experienced milder symptoms after exposure to sunshine. Research has shown that the use of UVB light produces the best results in the treatment of a variety of skin conditions.
Ultra Violet A (UVA)
UVA is an extended wavelength of light which causes some tanning of the skin but also increases the risk of skin cancers. Tanning beds use this wavelength, and due to the risk of skin cancer, many states have banned the use of these beds. By itself, UVA does not do much in the way of treatment, but when combined with the drug Psoralen, we can obtain positive results for a variety of skin conditions. UVA combined with Psoralen, or PUVA is an ideal short-term treatment for skin conditions that may not respond well to UVB. Patients will take an oral Psoralen tablet 45-60 minutes before beginning the UVA light treatment.
Ultra Violet B (UVB)
Over the years we have perfected that light and we now use what is known as Narrowband UVB which means that we limit the amount of UVB radiation to only those wavelengths which have been shown to be helpful. While initially used just for psoriasis, narrowband UVB phototherapy has now been shown to be beneficial in a wide range of inflammatory skin conditions and even itchiness of the skin from a variety of causes. It has been documented in the laboratory that UVB actually does have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin which explains why it is so effective.
Hand and Foot treatment:
For patients with skin conditions limited to their hands and feet, we offer particular accommodations for these patients with limited full body light exposure with light booths especially designed to treat only the hands and/or feet.
How many treatments are needed?
The ablative laser resurfacing usually only requires one treatment. As opposed to our non-ablative fractionated laser which typically requires 3-5 treatments for mild sun damage and 5 treatments for acne scars, depending on severity.
Where do I undergo my phototherapy treatments?
We have a dedicated area in our office to provide phototherapy treatments for our patients, complete with a separate entrance. Since we use a high concentration of lights, initial treatment times can be as short as one minute, and this makes it quick and convenient for our patients to come and go.
We are Seattle's Medical Dermatologists:
Dermatology Associates of Seattle is one of few clinics in the greater Seattle area that performs phototherapy procedures. If you have psoriasis, eczema or other skin conditions which have not responded to topical treatment, and you are considering phototherapy, please contact us by calling: +1 (206) 267-2100.
Online Consultation Request