A phototherapy service has recently opened in Naas General Hospital to serve the needs of patients in Kildare and West Wicklow. This will facilitate the delivery of the service which requires weekly attendance closer to home.
Ultraviolet light is found in sunlight. Phototherapy is a form of artificial ultraviolet light treatment, comprising of either ultraviolet A (UVA) or ultraviolet B (UVB) wavelengths of light, delivered in hospital Dermatology Day Care centres.
Phototherapy has been specially designed to treat certain skin conditions, and may help to lessen the itch and inflammation associated with eczema or regulate the accelerated rate at which skin cells turnover in psoriasis.
“It’s made a huge difference being able to access treatment in Naas and has taken a lot of pressure off me'” – Patient with eczema
Narrowband UVB is the most common type of phototherapy used to treat eczema and psoriasis. Another form called PUVA (Psoralen and UVA), may also be prescribed. PUVA is an acronym for psoralen combined with ultraviolet light A (UVA).
“I love this treatment and the difference it makes to my skin. Being able to access treatment closer to home is priceless” – Patient with psoriasis
UVA must be combined with a light sensitising medication such as psoralen to be effective. If your eczema or psoriasis has not responded to topical therapy, your dermatologist may recommend phototherapy.
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- Related: More about psoriasis
- Related: More about eczema
This process involves exposing the affected skin to artificial UV light for a set length of time on a regular schedule – typically UVB therapy is given 3 times a week while PUVA is usually twice a week.
Exposure time depends on the patient’s skin type, as well as UVA or UVB strength. Your doctor will discuss the frequency and the estimated number of treatment sessions with you.
Although phototherapy may help to improve symptoms, it may cause side effects, the most common of which is a sunburn-type reaction.
Talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of treatment as phototherapy may be inconvenient and time consuming for some patients.
If you need guidance or support about managing a skin disorder, contact the ISF Helpline for free assistance and information.