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How Effective Are The Different Types Of Light Therapy
Light therapy is often an effective treatment for psoriasis: It is estimated that the symptoms improve noticeably or go away completely for a while in 50 to 90 out of 100 people.
It is currently thought that PUVA using psoralen tablets is more effective than narrow band UVB phototherapy. But side effects are also more common and the associated risk of skin cancer may be greater. So it is a good idea to talk to your doctor and carefully weigh the pros and cons of PUVA therapy using psoralen tablets.
PUVA therapy using psoralen added to a bath has also been shown to relieve psoriasis symptoms more effectively than UVB phototherapy alone. And light therapy combined with bathing in a solution of common salt or Dead Sea salt appears to be more effective than UV light therapy without bathing, but it is less effective than PUVA therapy using psoralen added to a bath. PUVA therapy using psoralen tablets, PUVA therapy using a psoralen bath solution, and light therapy combined with bathing in a salt solution all share one common disadvantage: the effort involved.
Recommendations For People Undergoing Uvb Or Puva Phototherapy
- Courses of phototherapy are much more effective if administered without interruption. So, attend every appointment and avoid arranging a holiday during a phototherapy programme.
- Please inform your phototherapist nurse if you have been started on any new medication, as some medicines make you more sensitive to UV light.
- Dry, itchy skin can be treated by creams such as aqueous cream or emollients these are available on prescription and over the counter. It is advisable not to use bubble baths as these can dry out the skin. Instead, add prescribed bath oils or emollient to the bath water and soak the body for 10-15 minutes.
- Women of childbearing age should not become pregnant while having PUVA, but previous use of PUVA does not affect subsequent pregnancies.
- Do not wear deodorants, perfume or aftershave during treatment. Some of them contain chemicals which sensitise the skin to UV light and may result in a sunburn reaction.
This article is adapted from the Psoriasis and phototherapy leaflet.
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Lab Studies Show Red Light Therapy Improves Eczema And Reduces Itchiness
Red light therapy has also been shown to be beneficial for eczema treatment in numerous laboratory studies, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments. Everything from sophisticated immunosuppressive drugs, to a simple warm water baths have been tested in combo with natural light treatments, with very encouraging results. A 2013 study examined the benefits of light therapy and an immunosuppressive drug. Researchers recorded many benefits for eczema treatment:
- Significantly reduced severity of skin lesions
- Reduced inflammation
- Restored skin barrier
In a similar study conducted by the same principal researcher, the effects of red light combined with a simple hot water bath were examined for eczema. Red light therapy plus a hot bath also reduced inflammation, reduced the development of skin lesions, and suppressed allergic reactions. A 2017 study used SCORAD, a clinical tool that assesses the severity of eczema. Researchers found that light therapy reduced skin thickness, allergy-related cells, and dead cells that had built up in the epidermis. More research on red light and eczema is needed, and trials are currently underway, but the existing base of research is very positive and shows how natural red light therapy can reduce itchiness and inflammation and improve skin lesions for people with eczema. Red light therapy has also been found to be helpful in treating many other skin conditions.
Side Effects Of Light Therapy
Light therapy is associated with certain side effects. For example, excimer light therapy may cause blisters and a burning sensation. Other types of light therapy may cause short-term side effects including:
The main long-term side effects of light therapy include:
- Increased risk of skin cancer
PUVA is associated with a higher risk of skin cancer than narrowband UVB, according to some research. If you are currently undergoing light therapy, it is important to be checked regularly by your dermatologist.
Before initiating treatment, talk with your health care provider if you have an intolerance to light or are taking drugs that increase your sensitivity to light, such as sulfonamides, fluoroquinolones, coal tar, and tazarotene. Pregnant women and people with cerebrovascular diseases or malignant skin conditions should not receive phototherapy.
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Red & Infrared Light For Psoriasis
A recent study showed that the use of red and infrared LED light therapy is very promising in treating psoriasis. In the study, patients used a combination of near infrared light and red light . Over a period of 4 to 5 weeks, with two 20-minute sessions every 48 hours, clearance rates during the follow up period were 60 to 100 percent. All of the participants were happy with the therapy.
An additional study concludes: Inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis and acne can also be managed. The noninvasive nature and almost complete absence of side effects encourage further testing in dermatology.
Although the research is relatively new regarding the use of red and infrared light therapies for psoriasis, each additional study suggests that the treatments are effective and offer hope of a drug-free option for sufferers of this chronic disease.
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What Are The Types Of Light Therapy For Psoriasis
The NPF reports that there are several different types of light therapy, each with their own specific pros and cons. Types of phototherapy include:
Most dermatologists warn against using tanning beds or sun lamps to try to treat the condition on your own and the NPF does not support the use of indoor tanning beds as a substitute for phototherapy performed with a prescription and under the supervision of a physician. Only medical professionals should provide and advertise light therapy for the treatment of psoriasis. One reason why is because commercially available tanning beds and sunlamps emit more UVA light than UVB, which may be more likely to burn the skin, speed aging and elevate risk for cancer. UVA light is also less effective than UVB, unless its being used in combination with a compound called psoralen as part of a PUVA treatment. Using psoralen in combination with a tanning bed is not recommended, as it may result in severe sunburn, the NPF reports.
Who Can Help Me With Light Therapy For Psoriasis
Although many patients begin their search for help with psoriasis with a primary care physician, light therapy is typically administered by a dermatologist who specializes in phototherapy treatment for psoriasis.
No matter whom you visit first, its important to seek help for psoriasis because if its left untreated, symptoms can worsen and cause problems well beyond the skin, such as psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory form of arthritis that develops in about 30 percent of people with psoriasis. The biggest thing is to make sure that you see the doctor and get a diagnosis. Psoriasis can be debilitating, Kaffenberger says.
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A Guide To Using Light Therapy For Psoriasis
How this underused treatment can help
When ultraviolet light hits skin, it does all kinds of things, says Steven Feldman, MD, PhD, a professor of dermatology at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C. Ultraviolet light kills the immune cells in the skin that contribute to psoriasis, and research suggests that UV light may also disrupt the faulty signals between immune cells and skin cells that lead to psoriasis lesions.
With relatively few side effects, phototherapy is an effectiveyet underusedtreatment, experts say. Phototherapy is a great treatment to start with, says Kathy Kavlick, RN, community outreach nurse for the Murdough Family Center for Psoriasis in Cleveland. Some people get really good results from it.
Q: How Does Light Therapy Work For Acne
A: Most devices use either blue light therapy, red light therapy, or a combination of both blue and red wavelengths for acne spot treatments. Blue light therapy is used against acne because wavelengths of blue light have an antimicrobial effect, killing bacteria on the skin that gathers in pores and oil glands and causes acne breakouts. Red light therapy has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin and promotes the healing of skin and acne scars.
While blue light kills acne-causing bacteria on the surface, red light works below the surface and in the cells, helping to repair damaged tissues and rejuvenate the skin from within. Research is showing that light therapy may be most effective for acne when red and blue light therapy are used together.
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Q: How Does Light Therapy Work For Skin
A: For skin benefits, blue light therapy works by killing bacteria on the surface of the skin. Red light therapy reduces inflammation by increasing blood flow to damaged tissues.
Red light therapy also works by helping skin cells produce energy. The mitochondria in our cells absorb wavelengths of red light and use it to make energy and power the body with adenosine triphosphate . Daily light therapy treatments ensure that skin cells get an abundance of red light and produce energy efficiently.
Insurance Issues With Light Therapy
The National Psoriasis Foundation has reported that patients have had difficulty getting insurance coverage for light therapy. Lack of insurance coverage, or cost, was one of the top three reasons patients discontinued phototherapy.
Thats not surprising given the typical pattern of phototherapy insurance coverage, says Lawrence Green, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, DC. Phototherapy in general costs between $60-90 a treatment and you need to go at least twice a week for a few months minimum to achieve clearance of psoriasis, says Dr. Green. This quickly gets quite expensive. Even if you have insurance, there are often copays of up to $50 per visit in many plans. And these copays seem to be going up every year!
Because of the costs and the time commitment involved, undertaking light therapy is a decision that requires a lot of thought. To help you determine whether this therapy makes sense for you, talk over the possible advantages with your medical team.
It is important to keep multiple therapies in the therapeutic armamentarium as different people respond variably to different treatments, says Miller.
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Is Rlt At Home For Psoriasis Safe
Extensive studies that have been conducted around red light therapy didnt identify any adverse effects associated with the treatment. Therefore, getting red light exposure at home is entirely safe. With that said, we recommend you get a professional opinion before starting RLT for psoriasis. Make sure you visit the doctor and ensure that red light exposure is the most optimal course of action for treating your individual condition.
Written By Matthew CalderaMatthew Caldera is the founder and CEO of nuYOU LED, a leading provider of red light therapy devices. As a dedicated biohacker and RLT specialist, Matthew aims to make science-backed information about red light therapy and self-improvement more accessible to everyone. To achieve his goal, Matthew uses up-to-date research materials and converts them into easily digestible articles, answering frequently asked questions of those interested in the power of red light.Connect with Matthew on
Q: What Is Light Therapy For Eczema Does Light Therapy Work For Eczema
A: Light therapy treatments with red wavelengths are used to treat the symptoms of eczema. Recent clinical research has shown positive results for reducing the itching and inflammation caused by eczema.
In one trial, researchers followed 81 patients for nearly a year, measuring how their symptoms progressed with regular light treatments. The researchers evaluated eczema rashes before, during, and after patients received red light therapy treatments.
Participants received just a single, two-minute red light therapy session per week. Even with such short treatments, they saw considerable improvements in common eczema symptoms, including a reduction in bumps, flaking skin, redness, and pimples. The researchers concluded that red light treatments âmay become the new therapy of choiceâ for common eczema.
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What Are The Different Kinds Of Light Therapy
The type of light therapy that is generally used to treat psoriasis is known as narrow band UVB phototherapy. Here the skin is only exposed to UVB light wavelengths between 311 and 313 nanometers. The idea is that limiting the light spectrum in this way reduces the risk of side effects.
Another kind of light therapy is known as balneophototherapy. Here people bathe in warm water containing specific substances for about 20 minutes. Their skin is exposed to artificial UV light while bathing, or immediately afterwards. The bath often contains a solution made out of common salt or Dead Sea salt.
There is also another option called psoralen plus ultraviolet A therapy. It involves exposing the skin to UVA light and using a medication known as “psoralen” too. The medication makes the skin more responsive to UVA light, increasing its effect. Psoralen can be taken as a tablet, applied to the skin in the form of a gel or cream, or added to a bath.
Summation And Future Directions
Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease, involving the complex interaction network among which a variety of cells respond to light radiation differently. The outcome of phototherapy depends on a delicate balance between beneficial and detrimental effects of a specific laser. In comparison with other laser modalities, PUVA and UVB have the advantages of large radiation sizes, low price, and efficacy and safety that have been intensively demonstrated. In addition, PUVA has better effects than UVB on refractory psoriasis plaque and palmoplantar pustular psoriasis, but its side effects limit its broad application . PDL provides optimal outcomes on nail psoriasis compared with other lasers. The trails of LLLT are still limited, but the NIR and visible red light with low energy show prospects for treating psoriasis due to its strong penetration and encouraging photomodulation. IPL is rarely reported for the treatment of psoriasis, but PDT-IPL has been found to offer a moderate effect on nail psoriasis.
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How Much Will It Cost
The cost of a phototherapy kit will vary depending on the type. A doctor can help a person determine which device will be most effective for them. Phototherapy products vary in size from small, handheld devices to full-body surround cabinets.
Medicare insurance may cover the cost if the device is medically necessary. This will usually fall under Medicare Part B since it counts as durable medical equipment.
Are There Any Risks To Laser Treatments For Psoriasis
Laser therapy is generally safe, but some people have reported side effects after treatment, including:
- Temporary redness, itching, burning, and stinging
- Purple-colored spots on the skin
- Darkening or lightening of the skin
More research is needed to determine whether exposure to UVB light from the excimer laser might increase the long-term risk for skin cancer.
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How Well Do Psoriasis Laser Treatments Work
Psoriasis laser treatments work well on people with mild-to-moderate psoriasis. But because the light is concentrated, it’s not effective for people with psoriasis on large areas of the body.
It may take several treatments before you see results.Ã After the treatment, your skin might stay clear for a while, even several months. But laser therapy canÃ¢â¬â¢t cure psoriasis. It treats plaques you already have. Over time, the spots are likely to come back. YouÃ¢â¬â¢ll need a new treatment cycle to target them again.