The winter season can be especially harsh on existing skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, actinic keratosis, or vitiligo. But if you have one of these issues, now is an opportune time to look into your treatment options. Light therapy is one method for treating such conditions. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about it.
Photodynamic therapy, also known as PDT or blue light therapy, is a treatment in which a dermatologist applies a beam of light to the skin in order to treat a specific skin condition. This method uses a combination of photosensitizing agents, light, and oxygen to treat the issue. It’s a very effective, non-surgical treatment.
The procedure typically takes place in a darkened room. A topical photosynthesizing medication may be applied at a prior appointment, if needed. Patients wear goggles while the doctor applies the light to the targeted area. The treatment can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the issue and the size of the area.
Recurring appointments are typically needed to fully treat the area. Occasionally, patients experience some blistering or a sunburn-like reaction at the treatment site, but there is no effect on the rest of the skin or systemically.
Light therapy for vitiligo, a pigmentation disorder, has become an increasingly popular option. Vitiligo is notoriously difficult to treat, but narrowband UVB lights are proving to be extremely effective in the treatment of vitiligo. In fact, narrowband UVB light therapy is beginning to replace the traditional PUVA phototherapy vitiligo treatment. Another perk of light therapy for vitiligo is that it requires no photo-sensitizing agents.
Narrowband UVB light provides an effective psoriasis treatment to slow the growth of lesions that form this red, shiny rash. As psoriasis patients know, exposure to sunlight is recommended but not always possible. UVB light allows for faster clearing -- with up to a 75% clearing rate -- without the sunburns. Light therapy proves to be especially helpful for those who need full-body light exposure.
Atopic dermatitis treatments include topical creams, steroids, and lifestyle changes, but blue light therapy has also been proven to help treat this issue. The skin condition, also known as eczema, shows up as an itchy red rash, but the good news is it can be treated with light therapy. The procedure also helps reduce inflammation and itching associated with atopic dermatitis.
Actinic keratosis manifests on the skin as a crusty, scaly bump. It may be benign, but it’s often the first stage of skin cancer. It’s important to treat actinic keratosis as quickly as possible, and photodynamic therapy can do this. Typically, a photo-sensitizing agent does need to be applied prior to treatment.
The doctors at Vanguard Dermatology serve patients who suffer from psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, eczema, and actinic keratosis in the greater New York City area. We conduct blue light therapy and photodynamic therapy in-house. Call today to find out if this treatment is right for you.