The first line of treatment for eczema involve plans that help lock in or replenish the moisture in the skin, and protect the skin barrier. The treatments often include the ointments, lotions or creams that can be applied to the skin that will help to keep it moisturized. This method is aligned with the use of natural oils, wet wrap therapy and more. Phototherapy has its own place in the line of eczema treatments.
What is Phototherapy?
Phototherapy, also called light therapy or UV light therapy, is a treatment provided to the eczema sufferers with a special kind of light. As per Elizabeth Page, MD, a dermatologist at the Lahey Clinic and an instructor in dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston “Light therapy can be an effective treatment for adults and children older than 12 for moderate to severe eczema that does not respond well to other eczema treatments.” Ultraviolet B (UVB), ultraviolet A (UVA), or a combination of UVB and UVA may be used during therapy. According to Dr. Page, there are three different forms of eczema phototherapy:
3 Types of Phototherapy for Atopic Dermatitis
1. Broadband UVA phototherapy
This type of phototherapy stands for the type-A ultraviolet light. UVA can be taken by your body from the sunlight, but it acts differently on the skin than other UV lights. In order for UVA light therapy to get effective results, psoralen, an oral medication should be taken one hour prior to the treatment so that the skin responds well to the light therapy. UVA treatments are given twice or thrice on a weekly basis for 12-15 weeks. It should be kept in mind that some people are unable to tolerate UVA light treatments because of nausea from Psoralen.
2. Broadband UVB phototherapy
This type of phototherapy stands for the type-B ultraviolet light. The types of phototherapy has been used from 1920’s to treat skin conditions. UVB phototherapy involves standing in a light box for 3 times per week for 20 to 30 treatments. The length of the treatment increases till the skin becomes slightly pink. This is the first phase of treatment, and the weekly maintenance of the skin goes on.
3. Narrowband UVB phototherapy
As these eczema treatments may be given more safely, so narrowband UVB is more effective and surely requires shorter time period to treat your skin condition. Elizabeth Page, says “It is as effective as other types of eczema phototherapy and has fewer side effects because you don’t need to take a pill. Narrowband UVB uses a very small part of the UVB spectrum, which cuts down on exposure to UV radiation.”
“Management of atopic dermatitis has been less than satisfactory. Conventional therapy has not been particularly successful, and prolonged use of topical corticosteroids and systemic immunosuppressant drugs (eg, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, azathioprine) can result in severe cutaneous and systemic effects. We decided to evaluate the effect of UVB at 311 nm to treat 5 patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. In each patient a mean cumulative dose of 9.2 J/cm2 was applied over a mean of 19 irradiations. Narrow-band UVB notably reduced atopic dermatitis after 3 weeks in all patients. (J Am Acad Dermatol 1999;40:995-7.)”
However, our data indicate that narrow-band UVB phototherapy is a treatment protocol effective for patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis and favorably accepted by the patients.”
Also Read: Wet Wrapping for Eczema
When other treatments don’t work for eczema, the benefits of eczema light therapy can be considered with pros and cons. If the treatment is done properly, the fewer side effects can be seen in an individual. Phototherapy is used to treat eczema all over the body or for a localized eczema i.e (on feet and hands). Phototherapy generally helps to:
- Calm skin inflammation and irritation
- Reduce itch
- Increase the production of Vitamin D
Approximately 70% of people suffering from eczema gets better with the phototherapy. As per few people, their symptoms of eczema went on a remittive state long past the end of the phototherapy treatment.
Risks of Phototherapy:
Phototherapy is a time consuming process that basically requires many trips to your doctor’s office over several weeks. If the treatments are not provided carefully it can cause skin cancer, skin damage, burning sensation and loss of appetite.
Phototherapy is an effective treatment for a moderate to severe eczema and always keep in mind if it suits you then only go further with the process and let your doctor know about any medical problems you face during the entire process.