Living with psoriasis can be a daily struggle, as the red, inflamed patches covered with silvery scales affect both physical comfort and emotional well-being. While advancements in treatment have provided relief, a promising approach has emerged—light therapy. Also known as phototherapy, this non-invasive treatment employs carefully administered ultraviolet (UV) or laser light to target affected skin areas. By stimulating healing processes and regulating excessive skin cell growth, light therapy shows remarkable potential in alleviating psoriasis symptoms. In this article, we explore the science behind light therapy for psoriasis, its benefits, risks, and integration with other treatments. Embark on this enlightening journey with us, as we shed light on the transformative power of light therapy in managing psoriasis and illuminating the path to healthier skin.
What Is Light Therapy for Psoriasis?
Light therapy for psoriasis is a type of phototherapy, which involves exposing the skin to specific wavelengths and doses of light. Usually administered in a dermatology clinic or doctor’s office, it can also be done at home with special devices. The two most common forms of light therapy are ultraviolet B (UVB) and excimer laser therapy (ELT).
Types of Light Therapy
There are mainly 2 types of light therapy for psoriasis which are :
UVB Light Therapy: Uses artificial Ultraviolet B light to slow down rapid skin cell growth and alleviate psoriasis symptoms.
PUVA Light Therapy: Combines a light-sensitive medication (psoralen) with UVA light to manage severe or resistant psoriasis cases.
Both therapies are administered under professional supervision and can provide effective relief for psoriasis patients.
Light Therapy Procedure
The procedure involves exposing the affected skin areas to controlled doses of ultraviolet (UV) light or laser light. Here’s a general outline of how light therapy is typically performed:
Assessment and Consultation
Before beginning light therapy, a dermatologist will conduct a thorough evaluation of the patient’s psoriasis condition. This assessment helps determine the type, severity, and extent of psoriasis, which will guide the appropriate choice of light therapy and treatment plan.
In the case of PUVA therapy, if prescribed, the patient may need to take a psoralen medication orally or apply it topically to the affected skin before the light exposure session. This step ensures that the skin becomes more responsive to light during the treatment.
Exposure to Light
During UVB light therapy, the healthcare provider will position the patient under a UVB lamp or in a light booth and expose the affected skin areas to the UVB light for a specific duration. The initial exposure time is typically short and gradually increased in subsequent sessions to prevent skin burns.
For PUVA therapy, a healthcare provider exposes the patient to UVA light in a controlled environment, such as a specialized clinic, after the psoralen has taken effect following the prescribed waiting time. Protective eyewear is essential during the UVA exposure.
Frequency and Duration
The frequency and duration of light therapy sessions depend on the individual’s condition and the type of light used. Healthcare providers may schedule UVB treatments 2 to 3 times per week, while they typically schedule PUVA therapy sessions less frequently due to the medication’s photosensitizing effects.
Monitoring and Progress
Throughout the course of light therapy, the dermatologist closely monitors the patient’s progress and response to treatment. Adjustments to the treatment plan may be made based on the individual’s skin reactions and improvement in psoriasis symptoms.
Home-Based Light Therapy
In some cases, a dermatologist may prescribe home-based light therapy units for patients to use under their supervision. Patients receive clear instructions on how to operate the device and follow the prescribed treatment schedule.
It’s crucial to undergo light therapy under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional to ensure safety and effectiveness. Light therapy can be an effective and valuable treatment option for managing psoriasis, offering patients renewed hope for clearer and healthier skin.
How Long Does Light Therapy Take for Psoriasis?
The duration of light therapy for psoriasis depends on the type and intensity of the treatment. UVB treatments usually require 20 to 30 sessions, with each session lasting two to three minutes. ELT is typically shorter, taking approximately one to five minutes per session. These times can vary depending on the affected area and other factors such as skin thickness and colour. Be sure to consult with your doctor about a suitable treatment plan for your specific needs.
Is Light Therapy Effective?
Research has proven that light therapy is an effective treatment for psoriasis. Studies have shown that UVB and ELT can reduce inflammation, reduce plaque buildup, and improve skin texture after several weeks of treatment. Generally, those who receive both types of phototherapy experience faster results than those receiving UVB alone. Additionally, light therapy is an excellent option for mild-to-moderate cases of psoriasis as it provides quick relief without systemic side effects.
Who Should Get Light Therapy?
Light therapy may be suitable for those with mild-to-moderate psoriasis and are looking for an effective treatment without systemic side effects. Additionally, healthcare providers can combine it with other treatments, such as topical medications or oral drugs, to boost results. However, they do not recommend phototherapy for pregnant women and individuals with certain skin conditions, including vitiligo and lupus erythematosus. Consult your doctor to determine if light therapy is a good option for you.
Benefits of Light Therapy for Psoriasis
Light therapy has long been used to treat chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo. It is especially effective for mild-to-moderate cases with plaques or patches covering large areas of the body. Here are some key benefits:
• Improved appearance – One of the most visible effects of light therapy is an improvement in the look and feel of affected skin. The inflammation and scaling associated with psoriasis can be reduced, leading to smoother, healthier skin.
• Reduced itching – Light therapy helps decrease the severe itch that often comes with psoriasis by controlling the excessive production of skin cells.
• Fewer flare-ups – Light therapy can help reduce the frequency of flare-ups, particularly when combined with other treatments such as topical creams or oral medications.
• Clearer skin can boost one’s confidence and emotional well-being as it is linked to higher self-esteem, resulting in increased self-confidence.
Side Effects of Light Therapy
While light therapy generally produces few adverse effects when done correctly in a controlled setting, it is important to be aware of the potential risks.
• Skin irritation – After treatment, some people may experience drying, redness, and itching of the skin. In most cases, the body typically resolves this within a few days or weeks, and individuals can manage it with topical creams.
• Sunburn-like reaction – For those who remain in the sun too long after light therapy, they may develop a similar reaction as to what one experiences with sunburn.
•Researchers have linked long-term use of UVB therapy to premature aging of the skin due to increased sensitivity to sunlight or photodamage. Therefore, following treatment, patients should always apply sunscreen before going outside.
Integrating Light Therapy with Other Treatments for Psoriasis
Light therapy is a safe and effective way to manage psoriasis, but it works best when combined with topical creams or oral medications. To maximise the benefits of this approach, ask your dermatologist for advice on the most suitable combination for your individual needs. Remember to use sunscreen and avoid long exposure to sunlight following treatment sessions.
With the right care and guidance from healthcare professionals, light therapy can be an important tool in managing psoriasis and promoting healthier skin. Illuminate your skin’s health today—and enjoy brighter days ahead!
Light therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for psoriasis, offering fast results with minimal side effects. However, a healthcare professional should always supervise the process. If you are considering light therapy for your psoriasis, be sure to talk to your doctor about the options available and how they can best work with other treatments to help you manage this chronic condition. With the right care and guidance, light therapy can bring some much-needed relief—and brighter days ahead!