For many patients with psoriasis, one of the best treatments for psoriasis lesions has been found to be ultraviolet (uv) light found in the sun’s rays. Why uv light therapy for psoriasis works on psoriasis lesions is still a mystery. Patients can either use natural light or artificial light to treat the symptoms of psoriasis.
There are three forms of ultraviolet light found in the sun’s rays and they are UVC which are usually blocked by the ozone layer for the most part and have no benefit for uv light therapy for psoriasis.
UVB rays are responsible for tanning skin and cannot pass through glass. These rays are also longer than UVC which are the shortest of all ultraviolet rays. UVB rays have been identified as being effective when used in uv light therapy for psoriasis.
UVA rays are the longest and can tan the skin and these rays are commonly used in tanning salons. While they are also used in uv light therapy for psoriasis, they are ineffective when they are used on their own. When combined with a drug, UVA is very effective for psoriasis treatment.
It may seem like the most natural thing to do to simply go out into the sun if you are seeking relief from psoriasis symptoms. Like any other treatment for psoriasis, it can be effective for some people but also ineffective for others. When effective, remissions from the symptoms can last for a few weeks but again this can vary from one person to another.
Before using natural sunlight in uv light therapy for psoriasis, it is important to consult your dermatologist in order for him or her to determine your skin type. Your skin type will usually determine how effective phototherapy will be for you and a dermatologist has tools that will effectively test your skin.
Skin type and therefore sun sensitivity is affected by various factors besides skin color such as any medications you may be taking so it is important to tell your doctor about any medications you are be taking so that there is a proper skin analysis and determination of your skin’s photosensitivity.
When using natural sunlight for uv light therapy for psoriasis, it is important to stick to a schedule and be persistent as it may take some time before you notice any benefits. It is also important to be cautious to prevent overexposure. Your doctor may suggest how long you may sunbathe to prevent overexposure leading to severe sunburns. Do wear sunscreen and protective sunglasses that can block uva and uvb rays on areas that are free from psoriasis lesions. Also stay out of the midday sun which is at its strongest and most dangerous at this time.
As with anyone who spends time in sunlight, it increases the risk over the long term of premature aging of the skin, freckles and in more serious cases skin cancer so it is important to have the skin evaluated by a doctor periodically when using uv light therapy for psoriasis treatment. If you notice any suspicious skin changes, notify your doctor immediately and stay out of the sun.
This can be administered in a doctor’s office or in the comfort of the home with the purchase of UVB home units. UVB light fixtures that give off artificial light have been found to be very effective for many but not all psoriasis sufferers.
A prescription is necessary if a sufferer is considering a home unit to use for uv light therapy for psoriasis. The cost for these home units varies from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Heath insurance may be able to cover the cost for these home units.
UVB home therapy will work great if you live far away from your doctor’s office, if you are pregnant, if the patient is a child and if there is only so much that health insurance can cover in terms of doctor’s office visits.
Whether used at home or in a doctor’s office, these units can lead to a vast improvement in psoriasis symptoms and clear lesions quickly. Treatment can be stopped when lesions clear up but many patients adopt a maintenance regimen which requires several treatments each month to prolong the remission of psoriasis lesions.
With UVB units whether used at home or in a doctor’s office, protective wraparound glasses are important as well as applying sunscreen to areas that are very sensitive to ultraviolet light such as the face and the back of the hands. Other precautions to take include covering the genitals for male patients. Also, only the patient should use the unit.
Some UVB units found in a dermatologist’s office may be able to clear skin faster while preventing burning as well as lowering the risk of skin cancer. Just like sunlight, artificial light can also increase the risk of premature aging, developing freckles as well skin cancer so skin monitoring is important.