Phototherapy is the use of ultraviolet (UV) light to slow the rapid
growth of new skin cells. This is helpful in treating
, which causes skin cells to grow too
rapidly. There are two types of
Ultraviolet B (UVB)
UVB light is more effective than UVA light for treating
- Exposure times start at 30 to 60 seconds and are gradually
increased until light causes the skin to turn red. When the skin no longer
turns red after this much exposure, the time is
- Treatments are given daily or several times a
- UVB light is used alone, with tar products (Goeckerman
treatment), or with anthralin applied to the skin (Ingram regimen).
Ultraviolet A (UVA)
UVA penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB.
- Treatment with UVA typically takes 20 minutes for a
- UVA light used with psoralen drugs is called PUVA. With
PUVA, the treatment time is greatly reduced, from 20 minutes to about 2
Phototherapy may be given at locations such as a
hospital or doctor's office, a
psoriasis day care center, or your home (UVB).1
Phototherapy can be used alone or with medicines. UVB light
therapy is used alone to treat severe psoriasis. Typically, when medicines for
psoriasis are used with light therapy, you will use or take the medicine first.
You may apply it to your skin, take it by mouth, or use it as bath salts in
water. Then you will go into a booth and be exposed to the UV light. Using two
kinds of treatment is called combination therapy. Three common combination
which combines UVA exposure and a medicine (called a psoralen) that makes your
skin more sensitive to light.
- The Ingram regimen, which combines
products, and UVB phototherapy.
- The Goeckerman
treatment, a combination of
products and UVB phototherapy.
Your body is exposed to UV light from banks of light tubes that
give off either UVB or UVA light in a booth. Booths come in several
designs. Some look like phone booths and you can stand in them. Others look
like tanning beds and you can lie down during treatment. The booth will
record the total amount of light you are exposed to.
In general, your entire body is exposed to the light. (If psoriasis
affects only certain areas of your body, UV light may be directed at these
selected areas only.) You will wear sunglasses that block UV light and goggles
or a blindfold to protect your eyes from getting cataracts. Men may also
need to shield their genitals to protect them from an increased risk of genital