What is phototherapy?


The power of light therapy is harnessed in many aspects of dermatology.  Phototherapy, is a broad term which describes the ability of any form of light to treat medical problems.  In dermatology, phototherapy often refers to narrowband UVB (nbUVB).  LED light treatment is separate and should not be confused with narrowband UVB.


Narrowband UVB or phototherapy is a treatment delivered by dermatologists used to treat a variety of different skin problems.  Whilst UVA which is used in tanning beds (now illegal) is harmful to the skin, a narrow spectrum of UVB light is considered safe and effective for the treatment of skin disorders. 


The term ‘narrowband’  refers to the fact that a narrow spectrum of light is delivered (between 311 and 312 nanometers). Older machines delivered UVB in a broad spectrum of wavelengths from 280-315nm which is thought to be less safe.  At Melbourne Skin & Dermatology, we use the highest grade state-of-art Waldmann UV machines.


What conditions can be treated with phototherapy?


Phototherapy can be used to treat eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, itchy skin and rashes, lichen planus and many other skin conditions.  In the hands of expert dermatologists, phototherapy is a safe and convenient treatment option which may reduce the need for medications or creams. At Melbourne Skin & Dermatology, we have the ability to treat the whole body, or just parts, for example the hands and feet, where certain conditions are localised to these areas.

How it works?


Phototherapy harnesses the ability of UV light to decrease inflammation of the skin.  There are many chemicals and signal systems of the skin that are impacted, with the overall result being clearance of the skin problem.  In vitiligo, UVB also encourages production of pigment by melanocytes.


How much does phototherapy cost?


Treatments are free (bulk-billed) when you have a valid referral from your GP.  Patients without medicare are charged at a low rate.


What is the process of UVB treatments?


Phototherapy treatments are delivered 2-3 times a week for a minimum of 6 weeks.  Patients do not need to make appointments but can rather walk-in at their convenience to have the treatment. Once in the treatment room, patients undress down to their underwear and wear special goggles.  The treatment dose is automatically adjusted based on protocols set by the dermatologist.  Treatments usually last from a few seconds to a minute.


How long will it take before I start seeing results?


It can take up to 3-4 weeks before you start seeing results.  Treatment is always started at a low intensity and the ‘dose’ is gradually increased to avoid any side effects such as a skin burn.  At some point, treatment is either discontinued or the frequency of treatments is decreased.


If you have any questions at all about this treatment, please get in touch.

Specialist Skin Services

As an all-round specialist dermatology clinic, we work with our patients to achieve their goals and always maintain professional standards.