Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disorder that affects over 125 million people worldwide. It causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in itchy, scaly, and inflamed patches of skin. While there is no cure for psoriasis, various treatments can alleviate symptoms and improve skin clarity. One such treatment is light therapy, also known as phototherapy. In this article, we explore the science behind light therapy, its benefits, and its limitations in treating psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by the rapid growth and accumulation of skin cells, resulting in scaly, itchy patches on the skin. While there is no cure for psoriasis, there are several treatments available, including light therapy. In this discussion, we will explore the question of whether light therapy is effective in clearing psoriasis.
Understanding Light Therapy
Light therapy has been used for centuries to treat various ailments, including skin conditions like psoriasis. It works by exposing the skin to specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light, which can reduce inflammation and slow down the growth of skin cells. There are two types of light therapy: UVB and UVA. UVB therapy uses short-wave ultraviolet light, while UVA therapy uses long-wave ultraviolet light. Both types have been shown to be effective in treating psoriasis.
UVB therapy is the most common type of light therapy used to treat psoriasis. It works by slowing down the growth of skin cells and reducing inflammation. UVB therapy can be administered in different ways, including with a light box, handheld device, or excimer laser. Some of the benefits of UVB therapy include:
Reduced itching and scaling
Increased skin clarity
UVA therapy is less commonly used than UVB therapy in treating psoriasis. It works by penetrating the skin more deeply than UVB therapy and is often used in combination with a photosensitizing medication. UVA therapy can be administered in different ways, including with a light box or handheld device. Some of the benefits of UVA therapy include:
Benefits of Light Therapy for Psoriasis
Light therapy can be an effective treatment for psoriasis when used correctly. Some of the benefits of light therapy for psoriasis include:
One effective treatment for psoriasis is light therapy, which works by exposing the skin to specific wavelengths of UVB or UVA light to reduce inflammation and slow down the growth of skin cells. Light therapy can reduce symptoms and increase skin clarity with fewer side effects than other treatments; however, it requires a significant time commitment, can be expensive, and may still have side effects such as redness, itching, dry skin, and an increased risk of skin cancer. Different types of light therapy include broadband UVB therapy, narrowband UVB therapy, excimer laser therapy, and PUVA therapy, and patients should speak with a dermatologist and take precautions such as protecting the eyes and healthy skin, waiting between sessions, and avoiding sunlight immediately after a session when using light therapy for psoriasis.
Light therapy can reduce symptoms of psoriasis, such as itching, scaling, and inflammation. This can improve the overall quality of life for people with psoriasis.
Increased Skin Clarity
Light therapy can also improve the clarity of the skin affected by psoriasis. This can lead to increased confidence and self-esteem.
Fewer Side Effects
Light therapy has fewer side effects than many other psoriasis treatments, such as topical steroids or oral medications. This makes it a safe and effective treatment option for many people.
Limitations of Light Therapy for Psoriasis
While light therapy can be an effective treatment for psoriasis, it does have some limitations. Some of the limitations of light therapy for psoriasis include:
Light therapy can be an effective treatment for reducing symptoms and improving skin clarity in people with psoriasis. UVB therapy is the most commonly used type of light therapy for treating psoriasis, while UVA therapy is less common and often used in combination with a medication. Light therapy has fewer side effects than other psoriasis treatments, but it requires a significant time commitment and can be expensive. Patients should speak with a dermatologist before starting light therapy and take precautions to protect their eyes and skin during treatment.
Light therapy requires a significant time commitment. Most treatments require several sessions per week, and each session can last up to 30 minutes or more. This can be challenging for people with busy schedules.
Light therapy can be expensive, especially if it is not covered by insurance. The cost of each session can vary depending on the type of therapy and the location of the treatment.
While light therapy has fewer side effects than many other psoriasis treatments, it can still cause side effects such as redness, itching, and dry skin. In some cases, light therapy can also increase the risk of skin cancer.
Types of Light Therapy for Psoriasis
There are several types of light therapy used to treat psoriasis, including:
Key takeaway: Light therapy can be an effective treatment for psoriasis by reducing symptoms, increasing skin clarity, and having fewer side effects than other treatments. However, it requires a significant time commitment, can be expensive, and has potential side effects. Before starting light therapy, it is essential to consult with a dermatologist to determine the best type of therapy for each individual case.
Broadband UVB Therapy
Broadband UVB therapy uses a lightbox that emits UVB light. The patient stands in front of the lightbox for a few minutes each session. The amount of time the patient spends in front of the lightbox increases gradually over time. Broadband UVB therapy can be administered in a dermatologist’s office or at home with a prescription.
Narrowband UVB Therapy
Narrowband UVB therapy uses a lightbox that emits a specific wavelength of UVB light. Narrowband UVB therapy is more effective than broadband UVB therapy and requires fewer sessions. It can be administered in a dermatologist’s office or at home with a prescription.
Excimer Laser Therapy
Excimer laser therapy uses a handheld device that emits a high-intensity beam of UVB light. The device is passed over the affected area of skin, and the light targets the psoriasis. Excimer laser therapy is administered in a dermatologist’s office.
PUVA therapy combines UVA light with a photosensitizing medication called psoralen. The medication makes the skin more sensitive to the UVA light. PUVA therapy is effective but has more side effects than other types of light therapy. It is administered in a dermatologist’s office.
Using Light Therapy for Psoriasis
Before starting light therapy for psoriasis, it is essential to speak with a dermatologist. The dermatologist will determine the best type of light therapy for the patient’s specific case of psoriasis. They will also explain the risks and benefits of the treatment and provide instructions for how to use the light therapy device.
There are several precautions that patients should take when using light therapy for psoriasis. These include:
Protecting the eyes from UV light
Covering healthy skin to prevent sunburn
Waiting at least 48 hours between sessions to prevent skin damage
Avoiding sunlight immediately after a session
FAQs: Does light therapy clear psoriasis?
What is light therapy and how does it work on psoriasis?
Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet (UV) light to treat psoriasis. It works by slowing down the growth of skin cells and reducing skin inflammation. The two main types of light therapy are narrowband UVB (NB-UVB) and PUVA (psoralen plus UVA).
Is light therapy effective for treating psoriasis?
Yes, light therapy is considered one of the most effective treatments for psoriasis. It has been found to be particularly effective for treating mild to moderate psoriasis, and can be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as topical creams or oral medication.
Do I need to visit a dermatologist to receive light therapy treatment?
Yes, it is recommended that you receive light therapy treatment under the supervision of a dermatologist. Your skin will be evaluated and the dermatologist will determine the appropriate type of light therapy and dosage for your particular case of psoriasis.
How often do I need to receive light therapy treatment?
The frequency of light therapy treatments varies depending on the type and severity of your psoriasis. In general, treatments are given 2-3 times per week for several weeks, with the number of treatments gradually decreasing as the condition improves. Maintenance treatments may also be recommended to prevent flare-ups.
Are there any side effects of light therapy for psoriasis?
Like any medical treatment, light therapy may have some side effects. The most common side effects of light therapy for psoriasis include redness, itching, and dryness of the treated skin. In rare cases, light therapy may also increase the risk of skin cancer, especially with long-term and frequent use. Talk with your dermatologist about the risks and benefits of light therapy for your particular case of psoriasis.