Could Light Therapy Help Your Itchy Skin?

light therapy

For many people with psoriasis and other skin conditions, taking certain precautions to protect their skin as well as using the right medications are enough to keep the disorders under control. However, for those who are dealing with moderate to severe forms of the disease, doctors may recommend other treatments. One such option is phototherapy, which is otherwise known as light therapy.

What Counts As Light Therapy

It may sound like standing in the sun is all you need to get a dose of light therapy but it’s a bit more complicated than that. This kind of therapy involves the targeted use of ultraviolet (UV) light on the areas that are affected or the entire body in some cases.

Depending on the type of treatment you’ve chosen, you may be dealing with UVA or UVB light. These treatments are typically carried out in controlled areas such as clinics or doctors’ offices though there are doctor-approved home treatments available. 

It’s important to note that using a tanning bed does not count as light therapy as these beds are not designed to expose you to the right level of UV light that is required. 

RELATED: The Skinny on Red Light Therapy

The Different Types Of Light Therapy

Light therapy is typically available in two broad categories: ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA). UVB treatment tends to be more widely used as it only interacts with the upper layer of the skin and doesn’t require additional medication. UVA treatment is used in specific circumstances where doctors need to reach the deeper levels of the skin and it must be used in conjunction with a medication known as psolaren. Psolaren makes the skin more receptive to the effects of UVA light. 

A few of the light therapy treatment options include:

  • Broad-band UVB – the oldest form but can also have more side effects. 

  • Narrow-band UVB – more modern and is commonly used to avoid the side effects of the broad-band treatment.

  • Laser UVB – a more targeted form of therapy for people whose psoriasis only affects less than 5% of their bodies. 

  • Psolaren plus UVA (PUVA) – this treatment is available with the topical or oral form of psolaren and can be especially helpful for those who have thick plaques on the skin. 

  • Pulsed dye laser (PDL) – another targeted treatment that allows doctors to focus on lesions.

  • Low-level light or laser therapy – also known as cold therapy and is useful for reducing inflammation.

There are also at-home UV treatment kits that your doctor may recommend after you’ve done the required number of