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Everything You Need to Know About Phototherapy

Everything You Need to Know About Phototherapy

An inflammatory skin disease, such as eczema or psoriasis, leads to the emergence of unwanted and uncomfortable marks on the skin. These red, flaky patches affect the quality of life. They can progress in the absence of treatment. Why favor phototherapy?

What is phototherapy?

Generally, skin diseases tend to lessen, or even disappear, with the arrival of the summer season without any need for treatment. However, there are instances when a few hours in the sun are not enough to resolve the issue, hence the need for phototherapy. This term refers to any treatment of skin diseases using light. This process utilizes light or ultraviolet rays to treat certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema. There are two types of phototherapy: the PUVA therapy , which involves exposing the patient to UVA rays in a booth, and the phototherapy with UVB which uses ultraviolet rays that are closer to those of the sun.

What are the conditions related to phototherapy?

There are certain conditions to consider in order to avoid problems that may be associated with phototherapy.

  • A check for any potential risk lesions present on your skin should be conducted, regardless of whether they are large or small.

  • A skin assessment is equally essential to understand your sun exposure habits and exposure to UV rays.

  • An individual whose skin has already been damaged cannot undergo phototherapy.

  • An individual undergoing a specific treatment related to the use of a photosensitizer should also abstain.

  • In the case of phototherapy, it is necessary to take a psoralen tablet, a photosensitizing agent, two hours before the session to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment. Wearing sunglasses is mandatory during the session and for a few hours afterward.

What are the benefits of phototherapy on the skin?

Stress, skin trauma, the use of certain medications, and the application of unsuitable skincare products can lead to skin diseases. Exposing the skin to ultraviolet radiation can treat skin pathologies. The phototherapy sessions:

  • They help to reduce conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, or acne.

  • Reduce the redness and inflammation that prevent you from living peacefully on a daily basis.

  • Diminishes stretch marks and scars.

The sessions of phototherapy and their frequency.

Phototherapy may resemble tanning, but the treatment only utilizes the 311 nm spectrum of ultraviolet light during sessions. The duration of light exposure is brief, it is monitored, and takes place in a suitable location such as a clinic. Exposures to the rays are done at intervals of about 24 hours to avoid sunburn. The frequency of sessions is two to four times per week. You can treat your entire body or expose limited areas (local phototherapy) such as the hands or the scalp.

The potential risks of phototherapy.

Phototherapy can generate some short-term undesirable effects, notably:

  • Feelings of warmth, the onset of redness, or sunburn (erythema) are immediately noticeable. This could be due to the consumption of a photosensitizing food or medication in the case of UVB phototherapy.

  • Skin dryness, the emergence of freckles, or skin aging can occur over the long term in the event of a gradual increase in radiation exposure.

Phototherapy can also have long-term negative effects such as:

  • A cataract: it is prevented by wearing opaque glasses.

  • A skin cancer is likely to develop if you do not take action. Its risk of occurrence increases when the number of sessions exceeds 250.


ZANOLLI M. Phototherapy arsenal in the treatment of psoriasis. Dermatologic Clinics (2004).

VREMAN H. J. & al. Phototherapy: Current Methods and Future Directions. Seminars in Perinatology (2004).


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