Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves exposing the skin to artificial ultraviolet light on a regular basis and under medical supervision. It uses ultraviolet light (UVB or psoralen and UVA), which slows the growth of affected skin cells. Light therapy is generally used to treat widespread psoriasis.
Psoralen is a pill, lotion or bath salt that increases the skin’s sensitivity to UV light.
Light therapy can only be prescribed by a dermatologist. Partial to full skin clearing can occur after an average of 20 clinic treatments (up to 3 months). It is important to tell your dermatologist if you are using any other medicines or dietary supplements prior to initiating light therapy as some medicines and herbal products can increase sensitivity to light.
In New Zealand, light therapy is available at some hospitals and at some dermatologist’s offices.
Light therapy is associated with side effects that usually result from too much exposure to sunlight. The side effects will vary depending on the type of light therapy you are using. Your dermatologist will be able to tell you more about the potential side effects of light therapy and the precautionary measures you can take to reduce your chance of experiencing them.
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