If you’re suffering from conditions like psoriasis or fungal infections this winter, there is a proven treatment that can help, called phototherapy. In fact, phototherapy is even used as a primary skin cancer treatment. It’s safe and effective for a variety of skin concerns. Read on to find out more about this treatment option and see if it’s right for you.
Photodynamic therapy uses a combination of methods to target abnormal skin cells with more precision than regular UVB light therapy. During other light therapies, the surrounding skin is exposed to light which could kill off or damage normal, healthy skin cells. Photodynamic therapy is a more targeted treatment. This safe and effective therapy is used to treat precancerous areas on the skin as well as more developed cancers of the skin, lungs, and esophagus.
This two-step process first involves a specialist applying a photosensitive drug to the affected area on the skin. This is followed by application of the photodynamic therapy light which activates the photosensitive drug. This is when the treatment takes place beneath the surface of the skin, as the photosensitive drug targets and destroys the abnormal skin cells causing the issue.
The primary issues that photodynamic therapy can help with are skin cancer or precancerous actinic keratosis, a condition that causes a dry, scaly bump on the skin. It’s also used on actinic cheilitis, or chronic chapped lips related to excess sun exposure. With the combination of the photosensitizing agent in the medication plus the target photodynamic therapy light, the cancerous or precancerous skin cells are attacked and can be eradicated.
Additionally, photodynamic therapy can help patients struggling with psoriasis, a condition that affects patients year round but can be especially challenging in the winter. Psoriasis causes a build-up of shiny scales called “plaques” which can be treated with the photodynamic light.
Finally, photodynamic therapy is often a great option for treating a superficial fungal skin infection on the body or the nails by inhibiting the growth of fungal spores.
You should always work with a dermatology specialist who is well-versed in providing any treatment you’re considering. After a consultation in which the provider determines that photodynamic therapy is right for your particular skin condition, you’ll set up an appointment for the treatment.
Keep in mind that waiting for the photosensitive drug to penetrate the skin (a time period known as the incubation time) could take anywhere from a few minutes to hours, or even overnight. You may feel some burning or tingling when the solution is first applied, but the light therapy portion is not painful.
There will probably be some redness and potentially scaling or crusting after the procedure, but this will subside within a few days to weeks. It’s critical to avoid sun exposure for at least 36 hours after treatment as the medication will still be active.
Vanguard Dermatology is a leading provider of phototherapy in the greater New York City area. Call today to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors this winter.