Phototherapy

What is phototherapy?

Phototherapy is the medical treatment of skin conditions with ultraviolet light.

Phototherapy is a treatment that is prescribed by physicians. While oral medications may be appropriate in some cases, it is often safer and more effective to use phototherapy instead, as a means of treating the entire body.

Phototherapy is most often used to treat widespread or generalized forms of the following skin conditions:

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Atopic Dermatitis

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Other Forms of Dermatitis

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Uremic Pruritus

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Prurigo Nodularis

It is also used to treat some forms of cutaneous lymphoma (a type of cancer of the skin).

Our phototherapy machines can treat full body or just the hand and feet. The full body phototherapy machines often get described as something that looks like a “stand up tanning bed”. Although of course, a phototherapy machine is not a tanning bed at all – tanning beds put out a harmful type of light that can lead to signs of aging and cause skin cancers. Modern phototherapy units, however, only generate a special type of light called 311 nanometres, also known as “narrow band UVB” or “nbUVB”, which is safe to use as needed.

To use a phototherapy machine, patients attend the office anywhere from one to five times a week, depending on the condition and severity. After removing the outer layers of clothing, the person stands in the machine and the light is turned on. The treatment sessions last for anywhere between 10 seconds to 10 minutes – we usually start with a low time, and gradually increase the time at each subsequent visit as tolerated.

Patients often notice improvement after several weeks of treatment. Some patients discontinue treatment after a few months, and other patients continue treatments for longer to prevent recurrence of the skin problem.