Light therapy, or phototherapy, has become a treatment option for improving the symptoms of psoriasis in many people suffering from the skin disease. Light therapy works by reducing skin inflammation and slowing down the production of skin cells.
Doctors may recommend light therapy when a person has moderate to severe psoriasis, or psoriasis that has not responded to other treatments. Along with its benefits, however, light therapy has side effects that are not as well known as they should be. For starters, repeated and long-term exposure to light therapy can increase a person's risk of skin cancer, similar to tanning beds.
In this article, we take a close look at light therapy for psoriasis, including its types, effectiveness, and possible side effects.
What is Light Therapy for Psoriasis?
- Light therapy can treat psoriasis but will not cure it.
- Light therapy involves shining ultraviolet (UV) light on the skin, which can reduce the size, itchiness, and appearance of plaques. It may even clear them up entirely.
- Light therapy does not cure psoriasis, but it can help people manage their condition and improve their quality of life.
- Light therapy for psoriasis works by slowing down the excess growth of skin cells, which reduces plaque formation. It also limits the growth of skin cells by affecting the functioning of the DNA.
Light Therapy Procedure
Depending on which areas psoriasis affects, a person can get phototherapy on one area, such as the hands or scalp, or across their whole body. A healthcare professional will protect sensitive skin areas, such as the eyes and genitals, before treatment.
Light therapy requires multiple sessions to gradually increase the amount of time the skin is exposed to UV light and to give it time to heal.
People usually undergo three to five light therapy sessions per week over the course of 2–3 months. People usually see an improvement in 2–4 weeks, depending on the type of light therapy.
Each person's skin reacts to phototherapy differently, both in how much improvement they see in their psoriasis symptoms and in how long those benefits last. The average remission time is 3–12 months.
Because of the increased risk of skin cancer, doctors advise people to limit their lifetime usage of psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) phototherapy to 150 sessions.
Is Light Therapy Effective?
Light therapy is effective for reducing or clearing up the symptoms of psoriasis. An estimated 75 percent of people using narrow-band ultraviolet B (UVB) therapy, which is the most common type, will develop clear skin. This will last for at least 6 months.
Research has found that narrow-band UVB treatments are effective against a rarer form of psoriasis called acute guttate psoriasis and that people were satisfied with this treatment. According to the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, using light therapy to treat psoriasis results in noticeable improvement or a complete reduction of symptoms in 50–90 percent of people.
With the possible heavy risks associated with light therapy for psoriasis, there are other less harmful treatment options. (Of course we would offer more solutions to psoriasis!) Several of them are:
- Wet/Dry Wrapping
- Diet Changes
- No Alcohol
- Reducing Stress
- Colloidal Oatmeal
- Discovering your allergies
- Avoiding extreme climates (both hot and cold)
While these are temporary solutions, one that has shown real results is updating your skin care routine to a psoriasis-specific one. But do you know what ingredients actually help soothe psoriasis? At Wild Naturals, an entire line of eczema and psoriasis skin, face, and hair care was created so that you can see and feel the relief! Starring manuka honey, which is an incredible natural resource for helping calm and reduce the severity of skin conditions, you won’t find another skin care brand crafted for psoriasis than us. Shop the Wild Naturals store today to learn more!