Phototherapy is a treatment that uses artificial ultraviolet (UV) light, or controlled lightwaves, to improve chronic skin issues like psoriasis and eczema. At Beacon Dermatology in Asheville, North Carolina, board-certified dermatologist Michael Rains, MD, FAAD, is an expert in phototherapy and uses a specialized approach to improve patient outcomes. To find out more about phototherapy, call Beacon Dermatology or book a consultation online today.
What is phototherapy?
Phototherapy, also called light therapy, effectively treats certain skin diseases. It involves using a narrow-band ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) light source in a controlled manner.
Some studies show that the NB-UVB range is immunosuppressive for the skin, which minimizes the harmful effects of broad UV exposure.
By exposing the skin to the proper amounts of NB-UVB rays regularly, it may clear or prevent symptom flare-ups. NB-UVB exposure may also prompt the skin to produce vitamin D, an essential nutrient that helps reduce inflammation.
Phototherapy is administered by a skilled dermatologist or other skin care specialists. Each treatment is calculated to increase effectiveness of the phototherapy machine without increasing the risks of UVB exposure.
What skin conditions benefit from phototherapy?
Phototherapy benefits many chronic immune-mediated skin conditions. Dr. Rains may recommend phototherapy to treat:
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes itchy, scaly, red patches of skin. People with psoriasis make new skin cells at a faster than normal pace, causing the scaly patches. Phototherapy stops the immune system from overproducing skin cells and decreases flare-ups.
Eczema is another common skin condition that causes red, itchy patches of skin. The flare-ups are the result of an overreaction of the immune system, creating the inflammation.
Phototherapy reduces your immune system’s reaction, easing the inflammation and your symptoms.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune skin condition that causes areas of hypopigmentation. The skin condition develops because the immune system destroys the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes).
Phototherapy helps stop the immune system from destroying the melanocytes, creating a more even skin tone.
Why is phototherapy different from other light sources?
Exposure to uncontrolled UV light (both UVA and UVB) can significantly increase your risk of skin cancer and premature aging, including wrinkles and sun spots.
As with natural sunlight, tanning beds are also unmonitored. However, their light output is more concentrated than natural sunlight, which can lead to a higher risk of developing cancer in your skin.
How many phototherapy sessions are needed to achieve my desired results?
At Beacon Dermatology, phototherapy treatments can be administered two or three times per week, and you can see results within 4-6 weeks*. However, you might not see full results until after 20-25 treatments*. Patients who consistently undergo phototherapy treatments as directed by Dr. Rains may experience the best results.
Is phototherapy right for me?
Long-term and intense sun exposure can significantly increase your risk of sun burns, skin cancer, photoaging (sun damage), wrinkles, and sun spots. However, since phototherapy involves a controlled method during the treatments, it may reduce these risks.
You might experience skin redness, tanning, dryness, and minor irritation or itching, but these are normal side effects. Dr. Rains will work with you to minimize any pain or discomfort.
Are phototherapy treatments covered by insurance?
Beacon Dermatology will work with your insurance company to discuss costs and receive approval prior to phototherapy treatment.
To find out more about phototherapy and how it can help you, call the Beacon Dermatology office or book an appointment online today.
At a Glance
Michael Rains, MD, FAAD
- Board certified in dermatology
- Specializing in medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology
- Author of multiple peer-reviewed publications and previous adjunct faculty at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin
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