Narrowband UVB Phototherapy
What is Narrowband UVB Phototherapy?
Phototherapy involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light on a regular basis and under medical supervision. The key to success with light treatment is consistency. Narrowband UVB is the most common form of phototherapy used to treat skin diseases. “Narrowband” refers to a specific wavelength of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UVB light is emitted at 311-312nm, which is the most beneficial portion of natural sunlight for skin diseases. Importantly, it also avoids the UVA spectrum of sunlight that is very damaging to skin, and can accelerate aging and progression towards skin cancers. Narrowband UVB can be used to treat a number of skin conditions including psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, pruritus, lichen planus and polymorphous light eruption
What does narrowband UVB treatment involve?
You will need to attend the clinic for phototherapy two to three times weekly. Treatment involves standing in the centre of a specifically designed machine containing florescent light tubes, (akin to the Dr Who’s Tardis machine!). The treatment time will vary depending on your skin type and will gradually increase over the course of treatment. Usually the whole body is treated, but it is your discretion whether you wear underwear or not. Whatever you decide to wear it must be consistent through out the treatment. For example if you wear boxers and then switch to briefs the new skin that is exposed will burn. Protective eyewear MUST be worn during the treatment and this will be provided for you.
What is the result of narrowband UVB treatment?
Your skin may remain pale or turn slightly pink after each treatment. Please let us know if you experience any discomfort. The results for each individual will vary depending on your skin type and the condition being treated. For psoriasis the patches generally start to become thinner after five to ten treatments. Most patients require 15 to 25 treatments for the patches of psoriasis to clear. Patients with eczema generally require consistent treatment over one to two months before they see improvement. Fortunately for many patients it seems to be a “remittive” therapy, meaning it can put the eczema in a quiet state for a long period of time after the phototherapy has ended. Results for vitiligo are usually seen between thirty to sixty treatments. The UVB light helps to stimulate pigment cells to produce melanocytes in less time than it takes to burn the skin.
What are the side effects and risks of narrowband UVB treatment?
Narrowband UVB can result in burning, just like sunlight and broadband UVB. Frequent emollients should be applied to burned skin, and if recommended by a doctor topical steroids. Please inform us if you experience any burning. Long term exposure to ultraviolet radiation can cause skin aging and skin cancers, but this is mitigated by the narrow spectrum of light used.