Phototherapy as a Method of Psoriasis Treatment

American Academy of Dermatology estimates the number of people suffering from psoriasis in the United States to be about 7.5 million. While it is often a hereditary condition, meaning that those who develop psoriasis usually have a person in their family who’s got it before as well, it is not what happens always. Still, the issue needs treatment, and currently phototherapy is one of effective methods for it. So what is it and how exactly does it work?

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American Academy of Dermatology estimates the number of people suffering from psoriasis in the United States to be about 7.5 million. While it is often a hereditary condition, meaning that those who develop psoriasis usually have a person in their family who’s got it before as well, it is not what happens always. Still, the issue needs treatment, and currently phototherapy is one of effective methods for it. So what is it and how exactly does it work?

Psoriasis is a chronic condition when one’s immune system significantly accelerates the process of growth of new skin cells that get concentrated on one’s body. This happens because of old skin cells do not have the necessary time to end their life cycle and be ready to ‘give way’ for the new ones as they appear. Layers and layers of skin cells, piling up one after another, cause the skin to look patchy. One of the unpleasant problems that people with psoriasis have to deal with is the fact that to many people the disease seems contagious, while it doesn’t, in fact, endanger anyone around that person. Thus, it is important to keep in mind that one cannot just ‘get’ psoriasis from someone. The condition is genetic.

Phototherapy is the process of regular exposure of one’s affected skin to ultraviolet rays according to a specific pattern which is created and supervised by a medical professional. It is used mainly in patients who have moderate to severe forms of psoriasis. As National Psoriasis Foundation states, the best way to ensure maximum of effect is the constancy of treatment and authenticity of the procedure, meaning that no alternative methods are to be used instead of proven ones. For instance, using indoor tanning instead of specifically designed medical equipment is no good for a patient, as its light is different from the one that provides the necessary healing effect for psoriasis patients, and also increases the risk of developing skin cancer by 59 percent.

Currently there are three types of phototherapy:

  • Broadband ultraviolet B (BB-UVB). The first one to be created, this type of therapy involves exposure of skin to light wavelengths from 290 to 313 nm;
  • Narrowband ultraviolet B (NB-UVB). The second to be developed, more sophisticated form of therapy is known for its narrow range of wavelength (from 308 to 313 nm). This kind also appears to be more effective due to its bigger closeness to parameter of 311 nm, which has proven to treat psoriasis better;
  • Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA). Here one is exposed to A type of ultraviolet, which needs application of a photosensitizing medication called psoralen so that the UV rays could penetrate one’s skin easier.

NB-UVB is the most frequently used kind of phototherapy now thanks to the lower number of side effects in comparison with the other two. The results of meta-analysis of numerous trials has shown that about 60% to 75% of people suffering from moderate to severe psoriasis have reported minimum 75% improvement in the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index.

As the curing type of rays is a part of sunlight, that penetrates atmosphere easily, some sun exposure is also a good thing for those who suffer from psoriasis. However, a controlled treatment based on individual approach to a certain patient will still be much more beneficial.

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