The Lighter Side Of Skin Therapy With Red Light
While these natural home remedies for psoriasis are generally effective on mild-to-moderate cases, UVB phototherapy and red light phototherapy promote skin health with ease, convenience, and effectiveness. Given the potential for long-term skin damage from UVB light, however, red light emerges as the top home remedy for psoriasis.
Psoriasis Light Therapy Treatment
Light therapy treatment can use either artificial or natural sources.
Sunlight Careful exposure of the skin to very limited amounts of direct sunlight can assist in alleviating symptoms. However, very close monitoring of exposure time and intensity is required because too much sunlight may cause skin damage and actually worsen symptoms.
UV light An invisible light wavelength that is too short for our eyes to see. When skin is exposed to UV rays the activated T cells die off, resulting in a more normal skin cell replacement protocol. As well as less scaling and inflammation.
Patients should use sunlight treatment only under the supervision and advice of a medical professional.
UVB Normally given in a clinic, under the supervision of a dermatologist. This type of therapy can retard the production of skin cells. It is effective for the treatment of plaque psoriasis when the patient has not responded well to topical treatments.
We have written a very detailed article about the mechanism of red light therapy here.
TREATMENT WITH ULTRAVIOLET LIGHT B
Ultraviolet B is a natural component of sunlight and an effective treatment for psoriasis. UVB penetrates the epidermis and slows down the growth of affected skin cells. UVB treatment exposes the skin to an UVB light source for a calculated length of time on a regular schedule. This treatment can be administered in a medical clinic or at home.
COMBINATION LIGHT THERAPY
Uv Light Therapy For Moderate To Severe Cases
, also known as UV light therapy, is one of the most effective treatments for psoriasis. It involves exposing the skin to controlled amounts of ultraviolet radiation similar to that from the sun. It is usually prescribed with other treatments when conservative therapies fail to provide relief and is especially useful for moderate to severe psoriasis covering large portions of the body.
Phototherapy is performed in a dermatologist’s office under controlled conditions. Side effects tend to be mild. In addition to psoriasis, phototherapy may also be used to treat eczema, vitiligo, lichen planus, and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
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Benefits Of Home Phototherapy
- Home equipment manages dosage for the patient and prevents unauthorized use.
- Incorporates software for physician control of dosimetry.
- Precise targeting minimizes exposure of uninvolved skin areas and facilitates controlled and rapid treatment.
- Is cost-effective.
- Has narrowband UVB, broadband UVB and UVA radiation options.
- High output lamps shorten treatment times.
- Easy to operate patient interface.
- Accommodates patients of any body type, skin color or size.
- Eliminates time consuming trips to the phototherapy clinic.
- Makes it easier to keep to a treatment schedule fewer missed visits and better results.
- Allows patients to go directly from the shower or bath to the lights. This improves the treatments effectiveness.
- In the USA, device purchase is covered by many health insurance plans.
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.
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How Does It Work
If you end up purchasing an at-home unit, your doctor will prescribe you a set amount of usages per week, and time per use. Its easy: You lightly place the hand-held device over the affected area of exposed skin for the prescribed time or disrobe and step into the full-body unit, standing equidistant from all sides.
Some machines require you to set a countdown clock and monitor your time, while others can be pre-programmed by your dermatologist for time, UVB dose, and number of sessions. Youll be able to access a certain number of sessions in accordance with a regimen prescribed by your healthcare provider, Baker says. After that, youll check in with your doctor to review your results and make any necessary adjustments to the program youre following.
The Best Blue Light Wavelengths For Psoriasis
In one study, the use of 420 nm and 453 nm reduced several signs of psoriasis . Another study confirmed the use of 453 nm for treating psoriasis.
A comprehensive study of multiple doses of blue light showed that longer treatments had better outcomes. Researchers dosed as high as 800 J/cm^2. As the dose increased, so did the positive Local Psoriasis Severity Index .
Sources: Light Dose Database psoriasis 420 nm and 453 nm, Light Dose Database psoriasis 453 nm, 800 joules dose
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Can Anyone Who Has Psoriasis Use Phototherapy
While dermatologists prescribe phototherapy for many people, it is not recommended for anyone who has:
Had a melanoma or any other type of skin cancer
A medical condition that makes you more likely to develop skin cancer, such as Gorlin syndrome or xeroderma pigmentosum
A medical condition that makes you sensitive to UV light, such as lupus or porphyria
To take medicine that makes them more sensitive to UV light, such as some antibiotics, diuretics, and antifungals
How Long Has Red Light Therapy Been Around
Scientists at National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Quantum Devices, Inc. first discovered red light as a way to grow plants in space back in the early 1990s. Red LEDs produce light thats 10 times brighter than the suns rays. They also learned that this intense light helps energy metabolism in plant cells and promotes growth and photosynthesis.
From 1995 to 1998, the Marshall Space Flight Center challenged QDI to study red light for its potential application in medicine. In other words, they wanted to see if the red light that energized plant cells would work the same way on human cells.
The primary focus of this research was to determine if RLT might affect certain conditions that impact astronauts. Specifically, the scientists wanted to see if RLT could help with muscle atrophy and bone density issues that arise from long periods of weightlessness. Wounds also heal slowly in space, so that was another key focus area of their studies.
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology examined the effects of RLT versus blue light therapy for individuals with psoriasis. Participants had high-dose treatments three times per week for four consecutive weeks while applying a 10 percent salicylic acid solution to plaques.
Its important to remember that these treatments were done with high doses in a medical setting. The results may vary greatly if the therapy is performed at home or a salon or wellness center.
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Series Is Technologically Advanced
- Special ballasts and uniquely formed re ectors give the 7 Series a high output which ensures that treatment times are brief.
- Units can be equipped with Daavlins ClearLink Controlled Dosimetry, a control option for measuring power output and assuring proper treatment while at home.
- Advanced options such as FlexRx Exposure Limiting Software are available on the 7 Series.
What Is Puva Treatment
PUVA is a combination of UVA light and a chemical called psoralen . UVA is not beneficial in treating psoriasis on its own instead it must be combined with psoralen which makes the skin more sensitive to the UVA light. Psoralen can be taken as a tablet, applied to the areas of the skin being treated as a gel or cream, or added to bath water to soak the whole body. It will depend on what areas of the body are being treated as to which method is used.
PUVA is used to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis that has not responded to topical treatments, or UVB therapy. PUVA can be more successful on thicker plaques of psoriasis than UVB, as the UVA is absorbed deeper in the skin. For the same reason, hand and foot psoriasis is often treated with PUVA therapy.
Like UVB, PUVA is given in a phototherapy unit and administered by a team of health professionals. A Dermatologist calculates precisely how much UVB light each persons skin should be subjected to, and will increase the exposure as appropriate over the course of the sessions. Treatment is usually given twice a week, for a period of five to eight weeks. The individual stands in the PUVA cabinet for a period of a few seconds to several minutes at a time.
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What To Discuss With Your Dermatologist
If you use phototherapy to treat psoriasis, your dermatologist will check you after you have had a certain number of treatments, usually four to six in the beginning. These checkups are essential, so be sure to keep all of your appointments.
During these appointments with your dermatologist, you should tell your dermatologist if you have:
Any side effects
Worsening psoriasis after phototherapy
Missed more than two appointments
If you miss appointments, its unlikely that phototherapy will be helpful for you. Research shows that patients see steady improvement only when they receive phototherapy two to five times per week.
ImageImage 1: Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 66:807-12.
ReferencesAlexis AF, Blackcloud P. Psoriasis in skin of color: epidemiology, genetics, clinical presentation, and treatment nuances. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 7:16-24.
Anderson KL, Feldman SR. A guide to prescribing home phototherapy for patients with psoriasis: The appropriate patient, the type of unit, the treatment regimen, and the potential obstacles. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015 72:868-78.
Lapolla W, Yentzer BA, et al. A review of phototherapy protocols for psoriasis treatment. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 64:936-49.
Lim HW, Silpa-archa N, et al. Phototherapy in dermatology: A call for action. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015 72:1078-80.
All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology
Narrowband Ultraviolet B Light Therapy
Narrowband ultraviolet B is the most common form of phototherapy. It can be used to treat plaque or guttate psoriasis.
NB-UVB lamps and light bulbs emit wavelengths of light between 311 and 313 nanometers , according to recent clinical guidelines on phototherapy.
Your starting dose will depend on your skin type and how easily you burn or tan.
However, NB-UVB light therapy is most effective when performed two or three times a week. An emollient such as petroleum jelly may be applied before each session.
According to a 2002 , people who had twice-weekly sessions saw their symptoms clear up in an average of 88 days. Those with sessions three times a week saw their symptoms clear up in an average of 58 days.
Once the skin is clear, maintenance sessions can be performed on a weekly basis.
A 2017study showed that around 75 percent of people receiving NB-UVB treatments found it cleared their psoriasis or led to minimal symptoms. They used fewer prescription creams for their condition, too.
NB-UVB treatments may prove more effective when combined with topical treatments, such as vitamin D analogues and corticosteroids.
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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.
How Do I Choose A Uvb
Go ahead and do your Google homework: There are a wide variety of units available on the market. But picking the right one is something best left to your dermatologist, who will be able to vet the companies and make sure the treatment quality is up to par. Your dermatologist will help you select a unit that does a good job treating your specific symptoms, Dr. Cohen says. Some of the major manufacturers include Daavlin and National Biological Corporation.
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Do You Need Goggles For Red Light Therapy
You should wear goggles during red light therapy for protection from infrared, but not from red light. Red and infrared do have positive, healing effects on the eyes. However, this is not proof that its also safe.
Infrared can cause cataracts. If you self-treat with light, how do you know you are not also harming your eyes? The Environment, Health and Safety Division at Berkeley Labs says:
The most common eye disease associated with near-infrared radiation is cataracts. Prolonged exposure to IR radiation causes a gradual but irreversible opacity of the lens. Other forms of damage to the eye from IR exposure include scotoma, which is a loss of vision due to the damage to the retina. Even low-level IR absorption can cause symptoms such as redness of the eye, swelling, or hemorrhaging.
If red light bothers your eyes, this would be due to brightness and would be temporary. However, infrared light can cause cataracts over the long term.
What Are The Risks/side Effects Of Uv Therapy
- Exposure to UV light can cause skin damage, premature ageing and increases the risk of skin cancer. However, it is important to note that this is true of natural sunlight as well as artificial UV light. For these reasons, the British Photodermatology Group have issued guidelines as to the total number of UV treatments an individual can have in a lifetime.
- Some redness of the skin and tanning is likely, but you should let the staff in the department know if you experience any burning sensations .
- If you are using other treatments, including topical treatments, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist that it is appropriate to keep using it during your UV treatment. This is because some other treatments can make the skin more sensitive to UV light, which may increase the likelihood of side effects if used at the same time.
- UV treatment can make the skin dry and itchy apply plenty of moisturiser after treatment in order to overcome this. However, if the itching continues or gets worse, do tell the phototherapy staff or your Dermatologist.
- Oral Psoralen used in PUVA can make some people feel sick. Do tell your Dermatologist if this happens for you, as they may be able to change the type of Psoralen, or prescribe another medication to help you stop feeling sick.
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Can You Use Uvb Phototherapy At Home
The phototherapy for psoriasis is a safe and effective treatment method that can be carried out both in the hospital and at home. In 2017, Joel M. Gelfand ? a Professor of Dermatology ? started his clinical trial known as LITE to assess the effectiveness and safety of home-based phototherapy. Gelfand claims that home-based narrowband UVB equipment has become much safer and easier to use.
Using UVB phototherapy at home, patients can drastically reduce time on commuting to the hospital. Besides, home phototherapy brings economic benefits. Just think that a patient suffering from psoriasis has to pay a lifetime cost of $11,498 to suppress the physical symptoms. Meanwhile, the annual economic burden of psoriasis seizes $112 billion in the USA.
What Are The Side Effects Of Uvb Treatment
The most common immediate side effect of UVB phototherapy is a mild sunburn reaction. This maybe more likely if the person being treated has been using other medications or herbal supplements which can cause sensitivity to light. It is, therefore, important, before starting any course of any treatment, to inform the healthcare professional or doctor of any products being taken. This sunburn reaction is usually not serious and the phototherapist will adjust the dose of the next treatment or postpone treatments until the redness has settled. Some people report itchiness in the early stages of treatment, but this should soon settle.
The long-term effects of phototherapy include increased ageing of the skin and an increased risk of certain skin cancers. In the 30+ years of the medical use of narrowband UVB phototherapy, increased skin cancer has not been reported. UVB causes very little photoageing. Nevertheless, if someone has had 500 or more UVB treatments it is recommended that the risks and benefits of further UVB are re-evaluated and their skin checked for signs of skin cancer.
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Blue And Uv Light Are Both Effective
Visible blue light is in the spectrum next to invisible ultraviolet light. UV wavelengths are 100 nm to 400 nm wide. Blue light wavelengths are approximately 400 to 500 nm wide. UV light penetrates deeper into skin and is dangerous. Blue is safe when used as directed.
UV light is harmful to our health. In large doses, it can cause premature aging of the skin, damage to the eyes, pigmentation, and skin cancer. Blue light does not have these harmful effects, but it may cause our skin to be extra sensitive to UV rays. When undergoing blue light therapy, stay out of the sun as much as possible.