Over 7.5 million Americans are suffering from psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin disorder that brings about itchy patches of chunky, red skin that may also have silvery scales. For the most part, the patches will appear on the back, elbows, face, feet, knees, palms, and scalp, but they could also turn up on other areas of the body. A complication with the immune system gives rise to psoriasis. Skin cells that evolve deep in the skin go up to the surface in a process known as cell turnover. Under normal circumstances, this process takes four weeks; but in psoriasis, it comes off in just a few days since the cells ascend double-time.
If you have psoriasis, you might require extra help to keep your symptoms manageable; and phototherapy is one effective treatment that you may need to try.
Phototherapy medicates psoriasis by aiming ultraviolet rays on the sores. It is mainly carried out in a doctor’s clinic; but, thanks to portable phototherapy lamps, it can now be performed even in your own home.
The approved UV light sources used in phototherapy are lasers, PUVA, and UVB. It is important that you inform your doctor first before doing phototherapy treatment. It is also a must to limit your sun exposure and to protect clear parts of your skin at the time of treatment.
In UVB (ultraviolet light B) phototherapy, a device is employed to beam ultraviolet rays to the affected skin. These rays enter the skin, and cause cell turnover to slow down. UVB phototherapy should be done two to five times a week for it to work. It is an efficient course of treatment for patients with moderate to severe cases of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris), or thin plaques, as well as for people who are normally receptive to natural sunlight.
There are two kinds of UVB: broadband and narrowband. Broadband UVB has been used for many years in phototherapy. It has a long safety record, and it is mostly available in the US. The narrowband UVB is a newer innovation that releases a more precise range of UV wavelengths, requiring fewer therapy sessions compared to broadband UVB treatment.
PUVA (psoralen UVA) combines psoralen (a light-sensitizing treatment) with UVA exposure. PUVA dispels psoriasis lesions in 85 to 90 percent of patients; although this can only be done in a medical clinic, unlike UVB phototherapy.
Psoralen is usually taken orally, 75 to 120 minutes prior to treatment; although in certain cases, psoralen is applied topically. Topical psoralen is great for treating persistent lesions, especially on the hands and feet. Exposure to UVA light should happen within 15 minutes once topical psoralen is applied because after several minutes, light sensitivity falls radically. Frequently, if you are using topical psoralen, the amount of UVA required could be lessened. This method can help patients who are unaffected by oral PUVA, but obtain positive outcomes with the topical PUVA approach.
Two types of lasers are used in psoriasis treatment.
Excimer lasers transport ultraviolet light similar to that of narrowband UVB. This laser treatment is intended for mild to moderate cases of plaque psoriasis. It has the capability to aim at small, discrete psoriatic lesions; and its only possible side effect is mild sunburn.
Pulsed dye lasers, on the other hand, work through the emission of a different kind of light. This light extinguishes the minute blood vessels that nourish psoriasis lesions. Patients normally require fewer treatments with pulsed dye laser compared to excimer laser. Probable side effects are bruising and scarring.