Home phototherapy, also known as light therapy, utilizes ultraviolet (UV) light to treat chronic skin conditions like severe eczema, psoriasis and vitiligo. While there’s a ton of information on light therapy out there, these frequently asked questions offer tons of information on the treatment and the devices that are available.
What Exactly Does Phototherapy Do?
Phototherapy has been around for nearly 100 years and uses ultraviolet light to decrease the local immune system in a given area of skin, instead of decreasing the overall immune system.
Most commonly, narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) light is used in phototherapy to mimic natural sunlight. In patients with psoriasis, light therapy can slow the growth of scaly, thick skin. In patients with vitiligo, UV light therapy can stimulate melanocytes, which signals skin cells to produce pigment.
Phototherapy also treats many types of eczema, including the most common, atopic dermatitis. According to the National Eczema Association, phototherapy can reduce itch, help with painful inflammation, boost vitamin D production and even help strengthen skin to better fight bacteria.
Do Doctors Recommend Phototherapy?
Phototherapy is a good treatment option for many people with chronic skin conditions, and many healthcare providers will recommend it be used in conjunction with oral and topical medications for faster results. Many doctors also recommend phototherapy for children, when a patient is pregnant, when a patient cannot take steroids, dislikes creams or insists on natural treatments only.
While only your healthcare provider can decide what treatments are right for you, don’t be afraid to ask him or her about at home phototherapy.
Phototherapy can be done in the comfort of your own home, while you relax, watch TV or chat with a friend. Going to a dermatologist’s office for light therapy can be taxing financially, physically, and emotionally. At home phototherapy is a great alternative.
Are UVB Home Phototherapy Devices Big and Expensive?
There are many different light therapy devices on the market. They are different sizes and sold at different price points. Larger devices might be used for whole body treatment, while smaller devices are targeted for specific body areas. The easiest to use devices—and the most affordable ones—tend to be small, hand-held and portable. Some of the smallest, best at home light therapy devices cost around $1,500.
How Often Do I Need to Use Phototherapy to See Results?
While every patient is different, your dermatologist will determine your dose, duration and frequency of light therapy. Keep in mind that the other medications you take and treatments you apply will change your protocol.
That being said, most patients typically use phototherapy treatments three times a week. How long it will take to see results depends on your diagnosis and condition, but consistency is key.