Phototherapy ( treating skin diseases with the power of sun)

Phototherapy ( treating skin diseases with the power of sun)
Dr. Thajudheen MD
May 15, 2016 | Skin care

Natural sunlight has therapeutic properties and was made use of in treatment thousands of years.” Photo” means light and “therapy” means to treat . So phototherapy involves usage of sunlight (Ultraviolet light ) in the management of certain diseases. Ultraviolet rays belongs to 3 categories viz; UVA , UVB &UVC . UVA & UVB wavelengths are used in phototherapy as they have the ability to affect our immune system cells.

Types of phototherapy

3 main types of phototherapy are

Broad band UVB
Narrow band UVB
PUVA (psoralen + UVA)

The type of phototherapy is selected depending on the nature of skin condition , the area to be treated , age of the patient and previous response to treatment . When large area of skin is to be treated whole body phototherapy is suggested and for smaller areas targeted phototherapy (TPT) is preferred..TPT has the advantage of higher concentration of UV rays and sparing of normal skin from Uv exposure.

What skin problems benefit from phototherapy ?

UVB is used to treat

Atopic eczema and other dermatitis
Generalised itching
Lichen planus

PUVA is indicated for

Atopic eczema (when UVB is not effective)
Hand & foot eczema
Pustular psoriasis

In PUVA , a drug (psoralen), is given before exposing the skin to UVA rays ,to sensitise the skin.

Any side effects ?

Short term side effects are

Dryness & itching of skin
Sunlight induced rash
Reactivation of herpes labialis(cold sores)
Blistering (on psoriasis lesions)

Long term effects include

Premature skin ageing
Skin cancer (Related to total lifetime exposure to UV light )

Who should not undergo phototherapy

1. Photosensitivity ( which means your skin disease is aggravated by sunlight)
2. Severe liver or kidney disease (for PUVA)
3. Photosensitising medicine intake
4. Pregnancy (only for PUVA)
5. Immunosuppressant intake


Dr. Thajudheen MD

Dr Thajudheen is a dermatologist and cosmetic laser surgeon. He founded Dr Thaj Laser Skin & Hair Clinics in cities across southern India, where he pioneered the use of advanced lasers and cosmetology techniques.


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