Defeat the Winter Blues – Treat SAD with Phototherapy

As winter arrives, do you think of getting deep in snow, gloomy skies, and slippery ice? Do you miss the excitement of basking under the sun with weakening energy? Or maybe this time of year, you sizzle out for having a difficult time completing simple daily tasks. These can be signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or what is referred to as SAD.

sad

Causes of SAD

The lack of natural light because of winter’s shorter daylight hours is the number one culprit for the feeling of sadness that mostly characterizes SAD. Cold and wet weather makes working out and staying outside during the day harder. Staying indoors results to even less exposure to natural daylight, negatively affecting the body’s production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Depleted levels of serotonin cause a depressed feeling that is challenging to shake off.

Treatment of SAD

For people suffering from SAD, effective treatment comes by way of light. Daylight exposure, whether natural or simulated, can affect a person’s disposition.

A phototherapy session typically involves a light box or light panel that emits a full spectrum of UV light that appears white and bright as natural light during the summer. UVB lamps can also be utilized depending on the SAD lights prescribed by the doctor.

SAD treatment that involves phototherapy works on the premise that people can be fervently affected by changes in natural light throughout the seasons. Most people who do suffer from SAD experience depression during the winter, when there is a least amount of natural sun exposure.

Lights used to treat SAD are usually placed 12 to 20 inches away from the patient, and they are kept on for 30 to 60 minutes. Throughout this period, the patient is ordered to keep his eyes open in front of the light, but not staring at it directly. Following a few sessions, patients may feel uplifted. Frequent sessions are recommended to keep the winter blues away.

Dawn simulation is another method of SAD phototherapy where an orb-like device is positioned in the patient’s room at bedtime. As time approaches when the patient is supposed to wake up, the mechanism will begin to light up, gradually illuminating the room until the patient is all set to get out of bed. With this treatment process, timing is crucial. Reports have shown that dawn simulation, when done properly, it can be really efficient.

Prevent SAD

You can prevent SAD by investing in a phototherapy lamp. This is a minor investment with major profits. It usually takes only 30 minutes each morning to get positive results from a phototherapy device. Some insurance providers will even help with the cost of a phototherapy lamp if your doctor indicates that you would benefit from it.

Increasing the Effects of Phototherapy on Psoriasis

Phototherapy has been proven to be effective in the treatment of psoriasis. Even with just the use of handheld UVB phototherapy lamps, many cases of psoriasis have greatly improved. However, there are actually some ways in which you can increase the effects of phototherapy on psoriasis.

handheld uvb phototherapy lamps

To advance the effects of phototherapy, patients with psoriasis may be ordered to take a tar bath before exposing themselves to UV light. The physician may also prescribe additional topical agents that would be used with UVB therapy.

Soaking in warm water for 30 minutes before phototherapy can also loosen the psoriatic flakes, allowing more UV light to penetrate the skin.

handheld phototherapy lampsProvided that the right dose is given, UVB therapy can clear psoriasis in five to six weeks.

A clearance initiated by UV therapy can range from a few days to a few years, depending on each patient and his/her response to a particular UVB regimen. Typically, it will take 20 to 30 sessions to dispel psoriasis, and the average number of treatments is the same whether they are performed three, five, or seven times a week. But, treatment made less than three times per week generally bring in an insignificant response. Therefore, it is essential to understand that treatment given rarely, or stopped early, are two causes of treatment failure.

As soon as the skin clears, UV treatment can be stopped, and resumed only when the lesions recur. But then again, those who have phototherapy regularly, even in the absence of lesions, appear to relish lengthier plaque-free periods.

There is information indicating that UVB maintenance can increase the remission time. This report presented that even when administered at a modest frequency (an average of six sessions per month), UV therapy increases the length of remission by at least 45 days.

Effective treatment also depends on the skills of the therapist. If not enough UVB is afforded, the patient may only get a good tan, but no improvement of symptoms. If given too much, too soon, the patient may experience itchiness and painful burns in the skin.

Folliculitis can occur if tar is used with UVB. This is when skin pores are clogged with tar and minute pimple-like flare-ups appear on the treated skin. These will disappear; but in general, this means that the tar is being wrongly applied.

Like with natural sunlight, overexposure to UV light can trigger premature aging and skin cancer, particularly in those with fair skin or a family history of the disease. Hence, in the course of treatment, the patient should be wary of any skin growth that increases in size, or a skin injury that doesn’t heal. These may be indicative of skin cancer, and should be reported to a doctor right away.

The Latest DermaHealer UVB Narrowband Lamp: an Even More Affordable UVB Lamp

uvb lampA few years back, FavoritePlus launched one of the best and most affordable UVB phototherapy lamps in the market, the DermaHealer UV-B Phototherapy Lamp. And whilst the DermaHealer enjoyed great success with customers with its quality performance and affordability, FavoritePlus has once again made available an even more affordable hands-free DermaHealer UVB lamp.

Like the first DermaHealer ultraviolet light phototherapy system, this hands-free version is a drug-free, clinically proven device used for the treatment of all types of psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema, and other similar skin conditions even in the comfort and privacy of your own home. The DermaHealer UVB Narrowband Lamp uses original Philips™ UV-B/311nm narrowband light bulb that has the same specific wavelength as that of the sun’s natural spectrum. Its precise and unique spectral energy distribution, with an emission peak at 311 nm, is the most effective phototherapy treatment for skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, mycosis fungoides, parapsoriasis, psoriasis, and vitiligo. It also minimizes the possible side effects of phototherapy, like redness and itching, because the overall dosage of this narrowband radiation can be closely controlled.

uvb lamp

Whereas the first DermaHealer model is handheld, the new DermaHealer UVB Lamp is designed as a light and highly portable stand-alone lamp with a base. The lamp head can rotate to up to 360 degrees for hands-free operation. If you get exhausted in using the handheld DermaHealer Lamp, the hands-free version is more suitable to you. Unlike the handheld lamp that needs to be held for a period of time over a particular spot at a precise distance from your skin in order to gain its maximum efficacy, the hands-free DermaHealer can be placed on top of a table or the bed, so you wouldn’t have to get tired of holding it.

The package also includes UV goggles for eye protection and the LCD timer to ensure accurate treatment.

Treatment can be as quick as 4 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week for each area that needs to be treated. Visible changes can be observed in as little as one week; although results may vary between individuals and the severity of the condition. It is recommended that you consult your dermatologist for full treatment advice before use.

Key Features:

• The most affordable high quality UVB narrowband lamp in the market today

• User manual includes sample treatment plans for psoriasis and vitiligo

• Uses original Philips™ UV-B/311nm narrowband lamps

• The lamp head can rotate up to 360 degrees for hands-free operation.

• Wide treatment area: 5 cm x 13.5 cm (2″ x 5.5″)

• Portable, lightweight, and easy to use

• Safe and effective

• No doctor’s prescription needed

• No need for drugs

• Short treatment time

• Easy and quick to clean

• Ideal for home therapy

The Benefits of UVB Lamps at Home

Although there is no known cure for skin diseases, such as eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo, phototherapy is an established treatment option that typically provides positive results in at least 80% of the cases. Prescription drugs, on the other hand, are suitable for fewer people, and produce results that only provide clearance of about 45% to 60%, plus some severe side effects.

uvb lamps

In many cases, UVB lamps present the best treatment option for eczema, psoriasis, and vitiligo. UVB phototherapy is one of the least costly treatments in terms of attaining treatment success, and possibly the safest way to manage psoriasis. Furthermore, home UVB phototherapy is suggested to patients who need long-term UVB as a maintenance treatment to eliminate most of the main inconveniences of phototherapy, like costs for each treatment session, frequent travel to the phototherapy center, and lost time from school or work.

Given the clear advantage of home phototherapy treatment, products such as DermaHealer and Dermalight were created as home phototherapy devices that are significantly more effective in treating skin conditions, with the least amount of side effects. These UVB lamps are fitted with a narrowband UVB 311nm that has been well proven in many clinical trials for the treatment of psoriasis. And, because it is handheld, you can have more controlled exposure, reducing treatment expenses and time. Also, as soon as you are done with treatment, you can easily keep your UVB lamp until your next use.

In general, phototherapy shows improvement in your eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, or other skin condition in just a few sessions. And, with a portable UVB lamp, you can treat your skin disorder in the convenience of your own home.

Also, when other methods of treating eczema, psoriasis, or vitiligo are not working, adding phototherapy might help. Combination treatments, such as phototherapy and topical agents, or biologics and phototherapy, can play an important role in finding relief from your skin condition. This is particularly useful if systemic medications alone cannot handle your specific situation.

Many people have attested that they have had excellent results using biologics and phototherapy in serial combination on psoriasis. Initially, patients are subjected to phototherapy to clear away the thick, scaly plaques on the skin, and then a biologic, like alefacept, is used.

Distance is crucial with UVB rays. For every inch between you and the UVB lamp, there is a substantial decrease in UV light effectiveness. Light meter testing demonstrates a 50% decrease in UVB output after six inches of travel. An intense 70% drop occurs at a mere ten inches away.

Old UVB lamps were bulky, huge, and stationary. They were fashioned to accommodate the largest bodies, but the design requires an excessive number of lamps to counterbalance the distance discrepancy for smaller bodies. Additionally, the majority of users were positioned beyond the ten inch mark, which means that the treatment against psoriasis despite the additional UVB lamps is only 30% effective.

Portable handheld UVB phototherapy lamps, on the other hand, are designed to be used on every inch of the body, without any problems with distance, given that you can even touch the affected area with the UVB lamp itself, although this is not advisable. A distance of 2 inches allows for maximum efficiency in treatment.

Psoriasis: Phototherapy Treatment and its Different Types

psoriasis treatmentOver 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.

UVB Phototherapy

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 Phototherapy

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.

Laser Therapy

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.

Alternative Treatment for Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a pigmentation disorder in which the cells that make pigment in the skin (melanocytes) are disintegrated. Accordingly, white patches arise on the skin in various areas of the body. Similar patches may also be present on the mucus membranes and the retina. The hair that grows on parts affected by vitiligo at times turns white.

The cause of vitiligo is unknown, but there is enduring evidence that people with vitiligo inherit a group of three genes that make them predisposed to depigmentation.

About 65 million people in the world have vitiligo. In the US, about 2 million people suffer from the disorder. It affects both sexes and all races evenly; still, it is more conspicuous in people with darker skin.

Diagnosis of vitiligo is established through physical exam, medical history, and laboratory tests.

The principal aim in treating vitiligo is to make the patches disappear or less obvious. Treatment for vitiligo takes a long time; for the most part, it can carry on for 6 to 18 months. Every patient reacts in a different manner to treatment, and a specific remedy may not work for each one.

Numerous medical treatments, most of which are used topically, can lessen the appearance of vitiligo. However, more and more people are also resorting to alternative remedies which are said to be proven effective in treating the disorder. Here are some of them:

Phototherapy

Phototherapy can help in the re-pigmentation of the skin caused by vitiligo. These days, it is regarded as the best treatment for people affected with vitiligo in more than 20% of their bodies. The process is gradual – acting on the outer edges of each patch first, and then going inward – hence, routine phototherapy sessions can go on for months. To save yourself from exhausting and expensive trips to your light therapy treatments, you can purchase your own vitiligo UVB lamps. These UVB phototherapy lamps are safe, affordable, and you can bring and use them anywhere. They have been carefully tested and they have been proven to be effective in treating vitiligo. Phototherapy, in most cases, is well-tolerated by adults and children.

Cosmetics

A few patients with vitiligo cover patches with makeup, self-tanning lotions, or stains. These cosmetic products can be specifically effective for those whose vitiligo is confined to bare parts of the body. Countless cosmetic companies present dyes or makeup that you may find convenient in covering up patches. Self-tanning lotions may be better than makeup though, since the color can last for several days and it will not come off when bathing.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is one particular herb that has been proven to help the body in fighting bacteria and fungi, as well as different skin problems, such as vitiligo. For those with slow-spreading vitiligo, taking 40 milligrams of ginkgo three times a day may bring to a halt the spread of vitiligo. In one placebo-controlled experiment, ginkgo brought about re-pigmentation. Nevertheless, this remedy is not well studied, so it is still best to check with your doctor before taking this alternative treatment.