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.  

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.  

 

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.  

How does phototherapy work?

 

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.  When used to treat vitiligo, UVB also encourages production of pigment by melanocytes.