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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Phototherapy?

In phototherapy, skin is exposed to an ultraviolet (UV) light source for a set amount of time. It is used to treat certain skin conditions. UV lights are rays of light from the sun that are not visible. Phototherapy uses a man-made source of UV light for treatment.

Skin conditions that are treated with phototherapy include:

  • Psoriasis —a skin disorder that causes red, silvery, scaly patches on the skin
  • Atopic dermatitis —eczema (itchy, red skin condition) or dermatitis due to allergies
  • Mycosis fugoides (cutaneous T-cell lymphoma)—a type of lymphoma confined to the skin
  • Vitiligo —a skin disorder where normal skin pigment is lost due to destruction of pigment-producing cells by the immune system

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Possible Complications

The UV lights may negatively affect your skin in a number of ways, including:

  • Skin conditions could temporarily worsen
  • Itchy skin
  • Red skin due to exposure to the lights
  • Burning of the skin

PUVA treatment specifically may cause:

  • Nausea (if you took the psoralen pills)
  • Burning skin
  • Cataracts (lens of eye becomes cloudy, affecting vision)
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

If you have received a great number of phototherapy treatments, you may be at risk for:

  • Premature aging of the skin, such as wrinkling and dryness
  • Age spots or freckles may appear

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • Allergy to sunlight
  • Pregnancy or nursing
  • Medical conditions (such as skin cancer or lupus ) that require...