Psoriasis Treatment

Ultraviolet B (UVB) Phototherapy
UVB is light with a short wavelength that is absorbed in the skin's epidermis. An artificial source can be used to treat mild and moderate psoriasis. Some physicians will start by treating people with UVB instead of topical agents.
A UVB phototherapy, called broadband UVB, can be used for a few small lesions, to treat widespread psoriasis, or for lesions that resist topical treatment for psoriasis. This type of phototherapy is normally given in a doctor's office by using a light panel or light box. Some people use UVB light boxes at home under their healthcare provider's guidance.
A newer type of UVB used as a psoriasis treatment is called narrowband UVB. This type of treatment emits the part of the ultraviolet light spectrum band that is most helpful for psoriasis. Narrowband UVB treatment is superior to broadband UVB, but it is less effective than PUVA treatment. It is gaining in popularity because it does help and is more convenient than PUVA.
At first, people may require several treatments of narrowband UVB spaced close together to improve their skin. Once the skin has shown improvement, a maintenance treatment once each week may be all that is necessary. However, narrowband UVB treatment is not without risk. It can cause more severe and longer-lasting burns than broadband psoriasis treatment.
Psoralen and Ultraviolet A Phototherapy (PUVA)
This treatment for psoriasis combines oral or topical administration of a medicine, called psoralen, with exposure to ultraviolet A (UVA) light. UVA has a long wavelength that penetrates deeper into the skin than UVB. Psoralen makes the skin more sensitive to this light. PUVA is normally used when more than 10 percent of the skin is affected or when the disease interferes with a person's occupation (for example, when a teacher's face or a salesperson's hands are involved).
Compared with broadband UVB psoriasis treatment, PUVA treatment taken two to three times a week clears psoriasis more consistently and in fewer treatments. However, it is associated with more short-term side effects, including:
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Burning
  • Itching.
Care must be taken to avoid sunlight after ingesting psoralen to avoid severe sunburns, and the eyes must be protected for one to two days with UVA-absorbing glasses. Long-term treatment is associated with an increased risk of squamous cell and, possibly, melanoma skin cancers. Simultaneous use of drugs that suppress the immune system, such as cyclosporine, have little beneficial effect and increase the risk of cancer.

Information on Psoriasis

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