There is a form of eczema treatment which does not require the patient suffering from the skin disease to take medications. It’s called phototherapy or light therapy – a treatment for certain skin conditions using artificial light wavelengths from the sun’s ultraviolet spectrum.
Phototherapy involves the use of two kinds of UV light: UVA and UVB. Sometimes only one kind of UV light is used; other times, a combination of both is employed, of course depending on the recommendation of a specialist. It is prescribed by some doctors for patients with eczema, particularly those with atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis. So when does a doctor advise a patient to undergo phototherapy? When the eczema is widespread and does not respond to any medications applied onto the affected areas.
How long does the treatment last before significant results are evident?
Treatment by exposure to UVB light is considered to be the safer form of phototherapy. It is recommended for a person afflicted with eczema to undergo 3-5 treatments per week. The amount of UVB light used is gradually increased depending on the disease’s response and the type of skin of the patient. Usually, a noticeable improvement on the affected skin is observed within 1-3 months of therapy.
Are there any side effects when I undergo this treatment?
The UV light used in phototherapy, although artificial, is still much like the one emitted by the sun. That is why exposure to this kind of light must be carefully done under the supervision of a specialist in order to prevent sunburn and other potential effects on the body. What are these potential side effects? One is the possible development of cataracts – a condition which involves the clouding of the normally clear lens of the eyes. During a phototherapy session, the patient’s eyes are protected by special goggles to prevent the UV light from harming the eyes and vision.
Premature skin aging may also be another potential side effect of phototherapy, although limited to prolonged treatments only. However, the patient’s exposure to UV light is administered in controlled doses by a specialist, so any skin damage that may arise is significantly kept at minimum.
Isn’t it that exposure to UV light causes skin cancer?
We all know that prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause skin cancer. Sunlight has UV light; phototherapy uses the same kind of light as that emitted by the sun. Yes, this is very much true. But then again, phototherapy is controlled and administered by a specialist, and each phototherapy session does not take long hours of exposure to UV light. Usually, the first treatment only takes a few seconds, working up to a few minutes each side of the body as the treatment course progresses. Of course, much of it still depends on what the specialist deems appropriate.
How does UV light help relieve eczema symptoms?
You might have heard before that some dermatologists actually recommend their patients suffering from skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis to have their skin exposed to sunlight at times. So what’s in sunlight that makes it beneficial to such skin conditions? Yes, it’s UV light.
UV light kills the T cells in the affected skin, resulting to reduction of redness and slowing down of the production of skin cells that cause scaling. Because of the same effects, phototherapy is considered as an effective eczema treatment, when other treatment methods fail to yield positive results.