Phototherapy – Healing with Light
In ancient Egypt and Greece light therapy has found it’s use in medical applications. Famous practitioners like Herodotus and Hippocrates studied the health benefiting properties on body and mind. However, a modern scientific approach to photomedicine is a relatively recent development of the 19th century. Especially within the last 50 years a wide variety of diseases have been identified that can be effectively treated with phototherapy.
What is Phototherapy?
Phototherapy is the controlled application of light to treat psoriasis, vitiligo and other skin disorders. Skin is treated with the special light of phototherapy unit. The medical lamps in these phototherapy units emit ultraviolet (UV) light at a very precise wavelength that stimulates skin cells. In response the cells return to a normal state again, which reduces or even eliminates the symptoms of skin diseases.
How does Phototherapy work?
In short, regular sessions, the affected areas of the skin are treated with ultraviolet light. The skin cells are stimulated and return to their normal state. Although there is no complete cure for psoriasis, more than 80% of the patients report phototherapy treatment to significant improve or eliminate most symptoms. Therapy devices can range from compact handheld devices to complete “Walk-in” cabins for full-body treatments.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect both the skin and joints. It’s not contagious and affects nearly three percent of the world’s population. If you have Psoriasis, your body excessivly produces new skin cells. This creates scaly reddened patches that often become painful and itchy.
A phototherapy is a gentle low-risk treatment with excellent success rates for psoriasis. There are mainly two types of UV treatments available that differ in their spectral distribution.
With UVA, doctors often combine the treament with a type medication (Psoralen). This treatment is called PUVA. These Psoralen make your skin more sensitive to the UVA light, however, the additional use of psoralen also carries the risk of unwanted side effects. A very narrow range of UVB wavelengths (Narrowband UVB) allows for a more refined application of effective irradiation. This offers the advantage of reducing undesirable side effects, since long-term use of potent drugs can be avoided. Currently Narrowband UVB is one of the best treatment options for many patients with mild to severe psoriasis.
Vitiligo is a genetic, non-contagious skin disease. The skin develops white, sometimes even slowly spreading patches that are lacking their normal skin pigments. The good news is – these patches are not harmful medically speaking, nor do they produce pain or discomfort. They can, however, mean a great deal of emotional stress and a loss of self esteem.
Patients may undergo different treatments to regain pigmentation in the affected areas, but a complete repigmentation might not always be possible. With phototherapy different types of UV therapy can be employed: Narrowband UVB (311 nm), as well as UVA therapies in combination with photosensitising drugs. Exposing the skin to potent UV light can reduce and even eliminate the symptoms of the skin disorder.
Therapy times of six to twelve months are to be expected and need to be carried out in the short, regular sessions. For more extensive treatments, practices often use powerful full-body cabins, whereas smaller phototherapy devices are particularly suitable for personal use at home.
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic, non-contagious skin disease. Symptoms often include red, scaly and intensely itchy lesions on the skin. The disease can go through different phases and may change its appearance with the age of its patients. Atopic eczema is considered an incurable but treatable disorder. Therefore therapies often focus on anti-inflammatory treatment of the affected skin areas.
Irradiation with high-doses of UV light has an anti-inflammatory effect, leading to relief and promoting the regeneration of the skin tissue. It is used here mainly Narrowband UVB (311 nm), possibly in combination with UVA lamps
In severe cases of atopic eczema, the UVA1 phototherapy (340-400 nm) has proven to be particularly effective. The UVA1 uses its longer wavelengths to penetrate deep into the tissue and acts as a strong anti-inflammatory agent by inhibiting the langerhans cells and mast cells. The known rebound effects caused by cortisone treatments do not occur at all with UVA1 high-dose therapies.
The First Step to Healthier Skin
Understand your skin! Although chronic skin conditions might not be cured completly, but there is hope. Depression and stress can worsen your symptoms and you want to keep your psoriasis in check, especially in the long run!. Thats why you need to find regular treatment that really suits your lifestyle. Talk to your doctor and get familiar with your options. And assist in making your own individual treatment plan. A successful treatment will have a great impact on the way you feel and look!
Do you have any more questions?
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