In a review of search analytics, it is clear to see that many psoriasis patients share the same questions. Here is our list of the top 10 most frequently searched questions about psoriasis and phototherapy…
Q: What is phototherapy used to treat?
A: Light therapy – or phototherapy – harnesses ultraviolet light for its beneficial and healing effects. Most commonly, phototherapy is used to address skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo.
Q: What are the side effects of UVB treatment?
A: The list for phototherapy related side-effects is much shorter than alternative psoriasis treatment options. The most common side-effects are typically short term and are similar to a sunburn; redness, discomfort, and dry and itchy skin.
Q: Is home phototherapy safe and/or effective?
A: Home phototherapy can be just as safe and effective as phototherapy in a clinic or hospital, and has the added benefit of convenience for the patient. For these reasons, it receives a high level of patient satisfaction, and should be considered for qualifying patients.
Q: Can phototherapy make psoriasis worse?
A: Phototherapy treatment, much like psoriasis, varies from patient to patient. It is possible that one patient notices his or her condition slightly worsens before it gets better, while another patient notices more immediate progress. Flare-ups are also common in the healing process, but with continued phototherapy treatment clear those too will clear up.
Q: Can phototherapy cause skin cancer?
A: The connection between light exposure and the impact on skin and the resulting risk of skin cancer is not unknown. However, using UVB phototherapy has proven to be a safe and effective treatment option. Researchers have concluded that there is “no increased skin cancer risk with UVB phototherapy.”
Q: Is a tanning bed good for psoriasis?
A: Phototherapy is safe and effective in treating psoriasis because it harnesses safe wavelengths of light – specifically UVB light, which ultimately slows the growth of skin cells, effectively blocking the formation of plaques. While the appeal of using a tanning bed instead of a medical light unit is apparent, there are important safety issues that should deter a patient from using a tanning bed for psoriasis treatment. Tanning beds utilize UVA light, which does not treat psoriasis, and has a higher associated risk of causing skin cancer.
Q: How long does it take phototherapy to work?
A: Phototherapy is most commonly dosed in high outputs of UVB light administered two to three times a week. Treatment lengths start at just seconds in length initially and expand to several minutes of exposure per treatment. On average, 20 treatment sessions are necessary before patients begin to notice results.
Q: Does psoriasis worsen with age?
A: Once a patient is able to get his or her psoriasis under control, it does not worsen with age. However, stress is a common trigger for flare-ups, therefore; it is common for people to experience worse levels of psoriasis during more stressful times in life.
Q: How much does light therapy for psoriasis cost?
A: Cost is a major factor that will impact the therapy option patients will undergo to treat psoriasis. Topical psoriasis medications might cost $500+ per tube and biologic treatments can cost nearly $20,000 a year. Purchasing a home phototherapy unit may be a beneficial investment, saving patients hundreds in “gas and travel time and office co-pays.”
Q: Are there any foods that could make my psoriasis worse?
A: While psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that results in the buildup of cells on the skin, a diet that avoids triggers could be beneficial. Many sufferers have reported the following foods and drinks to be linked with flare-ups. Foods containing arachidonic acid such as red meat and dairy products can increase inflammation. Junk foods that are high in saturated and trans fats are also known to cause inflammation and worsen psoriasis symptoms. Alcohol consumption has also been reported to be associated with increased symptoms. Although the connection between food and psoriasis has not been confirmed, psoriasis patients who have removed or reduced these foods from their diets have noticed results.