What You Need to Know About Light Therapy

Light therapy on a woman's face What You Need to Know About Light Therapy

If you’re one of the millions that suffers from eczema, psoriasis, or vitiligo, you might be wondering about light therapy and whether it can help you. These common skin conditions can be exacerbated during certain times of the year, and finding a non-invasive treatment may feel impossible. Read on to find out why light therapy might be your best bet.

What to Know About Light Therapy

What Is Light Therapy?

Narrowband UVB light therapy is used in dermatology offices to treat a variety of stubborn diagnoses. Often, patients who suffer from a skin condition that has not responded to lifestyle changes, medications, or other types of therapy will discuss narrowband UVB light therapy with their doctor.

During a narrowband UVB treatment, a specialist applies light to the affected area of skin. If the area is smaller, the doctor will use a wand that emits a beam of light. If the affected area covers larger patches of skin or the entire body, the patient is usually directed to stand in a full-body light chamber, similar to a tanning booth but done under medical supervision.

Narrowband UVB light therapy combines light, oxygen, and photosensitizing agents to treat the skin. It’s a non-surgical and highly effective treatment option, but it does take some time and effort to see results.

What to Expect During Light Therapy

If necessary, a topical photosynthesizing agent will be applied prior to your light therapy appointment. This photosynthesizing medication is not always needed, particularly in light therapy for vitiligo treatments. The therapy sessions usually take place in a darkened room. You will be given goggles to wear for the duration of the treatment, in order to protect your eyes from the light’s rays.

Then, the doctor will apply the narrowband UVB light to the affected area of skin, waving it over the skin repeatedly. This treatment can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the skin condition and the size of the treatment area. You will typically need a couple of sessions per week for a period of several months.

Skin Conditions Treated by Light Therapy

Light therapy for vitiligo is proving to be a useful treatment and becoming more commonly used. Vitiligo is a disorder causing loss of pigmentation on areas of the skin, leaving patches or blotches of white. It is not an easy condition to treat, and may require many sessions.

Narrowband UVB light therapy also serves as a safe and effective psoriasis treatment. Often, patients with psoriasis are directed to sunbathe, but depending on climate, this isn’t always possible. Light therapy can help slow the growth of psoriasis lesions and can result in up to a 75% clearing rate.

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is also treated with narrowband UVB light therapy. The blue light can help reduce inflammation and itching, soothing the affected areas of skin and calming the immune response that results in the red, crusty eczema rash.

Contact Vanguard Dermatology

Vanguard Dermatology serves patients in the greater New York City area who are suffering from psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo. Our board-certified specialists conduct blue light therapy in our offices and can help you decide whether this treatment is right for you. Call today to make an appointment with one of our doctors.

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