What is Phototherapy?

What is Phototherapy?

Phototherapy is the use of specific wavelengths of light that have been shown to be very effective in the treatment of psoriasis. This light occurs naturally as a component of sunlight and is called ultraviolet light.

What is UV Light?

Phototherapy, or ultraviolet light, is defined as either mid wave light energy (Ultraviolet-B light [UVB]) or long wave light (Ultraviolet-A [UVA]). UVB is available as narrowband or broadband. It has been known for many years that UVA, UVB, and narrowband UVB light – Ultraviolet phototherapy – slows abnormal growth of normal skin cells which is associated with psoriasis. Narrow band (NB) UVB and PUVA are often used to start the repigmenting process for vitiligo.

What is Narrow Band UVB Light?

Narrow band UVB is light energy which is emitted in a narrow band portion of the UVB light range, 311 nm to 313 nm. UVB-NB has been shown to be the optimal part of the UV light spectrum which slows growth of psoriasis lesions.

Is Phototherapy Safe?

As we all know, virtually every treatment for any type of illness carries with it some level of risk. We know that excessive exposure to UV light over a long period of time may increase the chances of skin cancer. However, unlike oral, IV or IM medications, the safety of UV light therapy (ultraviolet phototherapy) has been proven for over 100 years. Recent studies show that narrowband UVB lamps (UVB-NB) have virtually NO incidence of causing skin cancer.* Ultraviolet phototherapy in general, and particularly narrow band phototherapy light has been proven for long-term use and for treatment of children with minimal side effects.* Ultraviolet phototherapy has been shown to be an extremely effective treatment for controlling psoriasis and vitiligo.

With guidance from your physician, you will find that using UV light will keep you in almost complete remission with minimum side effects. However, to further reduce the risk, National Biological requires a physician’s prescription (U.S. only) to be certain that you have discussed the use of ultraviolet phototherapy at home. Plus, our ultraviolet phototherapy units, most available with narrowband UVB lamps, help to ensure this with numerous safety features including a controlled prescription timer, child-proof key lock switch and more.

Which Form Of Ultraviolet Phototherapy Is Best – UVA, UVB, or UVB-NB?

All of these light treatments are quite effective, and the form of ultraviolet phototherapy you need will be prescribed by your doctor. However, UVA light must always be used with an oral or tropical drug named Methoxsalen. Consequently, treatment with UVA light requires very active participation by your physician who must supervise your treatment closely. In most cases, it is preferable to use narrow band UVB (UVB-NB) light, since there is no need for systemic drugs like Methoxsalen and treatment times are short. Recent studies show that the use of UVB narrow band light (UVB-NB) results in faster responses and longer remissions than with UVB broadband. Using narrowband UVB, results are similar to a PUVA treatment without the adverse effects of the drug. Also, it is relatively easy for both you and your physician to monitor and control treatment. Narrowband UVB is often replacing conventional UVB because in many cases, it is safe and effective while taking less time. UVB-NB is generally considered to be safe for children and lactating mothers. Many practitioners have noted a significant reduction in psoriasis scaling after the first 3 to 6 treatments and improvement may be noted after 6 to 9 treatments. Repigmenting vitiligo is a longer process. We also offer blue (visible) lights to treat acne.

How Does Phototherapy Compare With Other Forms Of Psoriasis Treatment?

Other forms of treatment require the use of very strong steroids, immunosuppressive drugs, other systemic drugs or over the counter topical medications. These alternatives, while heavily promoted by drug companies, are costly, not effective for long term use, and have the potential for serious side effects. Ultraviolet phototherapy has been recognized as safe, effective, and economical and has stood the test of time.

How Often are Treatments Taken and How long Are Treatment Times?

This depends on your condition. For psoriasis, treatments are taken 3 to 5 times per week, with ultraviolet phototherapy treatment times beginning at a few seconds and increasing to several minutes over time. Once clearing is achieved, your doctor will determine whether your maintenance needs require regular phototherapy or whether your remission needs only periodic checkups.

At What Point Is Home Therapy A Viable Option?

Obviously, consult your physician, but if your involvement is 10% or more of your body, ultraviolet phototherapy is the fastest, most effective treatment possible. There is minimal risk involved. You can treat yourself in the privacy of your own home with your physician’s guidance. Together, you will determine an effective schedule of home treatment. All orders for our home therapy devices require a physician’s prescription.

Will I Still Need To See My Physician Once I Begin To Have Treatment?

Yes. You and your physician will determine an effective schedule of home treatment, and he or she will monitor your progress. Only through the correct use of ultraviolet phototherapy and your physician’s guidance can you expect to keep your skin clear and reduce the potential for side effects. This is why all orders for home phototherapy devices require a physician’s prescription and supervision.

Is Home Phototherapy Expensive?

In most cases, no. Today many insurance carriers have recognized the value of a home phototherapy regimen under the guidance of a physician for the treatment of severe psoriasis. As a result, many insurance companies cover 80% or more of the cost of a home treatment device. National Biological accepts most major credit cards, and offers various payment options including extended terms. Plus, we offer FREE insurance claim assistance.

What are the Electrical Requirements?

All home phototherapy units from National Biological plug into standard household grounded electrical outlets. They require 110V and draw anywhere from 0.5 to 13 Amps.

How Long Do Lamps Last?

Under normal usage, the lamps have a useful life of three to five years. After that they will slowly lose power, so treatment times will increase two- or three-fold. Our lamps carry a 90 day warranty, and we always have replacements in stock.

What Maintenance Does A Home Phototherapy Machine Require?

Very little. You can keep lamps and reflector clean by periodically using a soft cloth with common glass cleaner. Timers also should be checked for accuracy.

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