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» Procedures » Phototherapy

Phototherapy

Phototherapy involves the controlled delivery of a specific wavelength of artificial ultraviolet light onto your skin.

Patients receiving phototherapy stand inside a UV cabinet that is lined with fluorescent tubes that deliver the ultraviolet light onto affected areas of your skin.

It may be an effective treatment for your skin condition, when creams or oral medications have not been successful, have caused side effects or are contraindicated.

Whole body narrowband Ultraviolet B (UVB) Phototherapy

Photograph of the narrowband UVB machine in our Mount Barker rooms.

Whole body narrowband Ultraviolet B (UVB) Phototherapy is available at each of our main clinics

  • Dulwich (2 machines)
  • Salisbury (2 machines)
  • Mount Barker (1 machine)

Skin conditions treatable with phototherapy include

  • psoriasis
  • eczema
  • vitiligo
  • lichen planus
  • mycosis fungoides
  • pityriasis rosea
  • generalised pruritus (itch)

There are also other less common skin conditions that can respond to phototherapy.

For a general overview of phototherapy you may wish to consider looking at A-Z of Skin: Phototherapy which is a page from the website of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

Hand and foot PUVA phototherapy

Is available at

  • Dulwich
  • Salisbury
  • Mount Barker

Hand and foot PUVA machine

This may be indicated for the following conditions

  • chronic vesicular hand and foot dermatitis (also known as pompholyx)
  • chronic hyperkeratotic hand and foot dermatitis
  • palmoplantar psoriasis
  • pustular psoriasis
  • palmoplantar pustulosis

PUVA is an acronym for Psoralen and Ultra Violet A radiation. The first step of PUVA therapy is to soak your hands and feet in a Psoralen solution. The next step involves the delivery of UVA onto the hands and feet. UVA is a specific wavelength of light that will photoactivate the Psoralen. This interaction takes place on your hands and feet and helps treat your skin condition.

Treatment schedule

A treatment schedule will be prepared for you. Your doctor will decide upon your starting dose, the frequency of treatments (often 3x a week), dose increments, and when you should next be reviewed. Our receptionists will book in advance your treatment sessions and prepare a list of times during the week that you can attend for treatment.

The doses that you receive depend on your skin type. The total number of treatments received depend on the extent and severity of your skin condition and your response to treatment. With each attendance your dose will be increased according to the treatment schedule. Time spent in the UV cabinet may range from only 30 seconds at the start of your treatment to several minutes closer to the end of your treatment.

Your progress will be carefully monitored by your Dermatologist and doses received will be adjusted according to your response to treatment.

Important Precautions

During the course of your phototherapy treatment is important to remember the following:

  • Ensure that your body is positioned such that the phototherapy beams are directed onto affected areas.
  • Wear protective goggles which we supply during UVB phototherapy and PUVA treatment.
  • Protect your face during treatment especially if it is not affected by your skin condition.
  • Let us know if you have been commenced on any new medications as certain drugs can potentially cause photosensitive drug rashes.
  • Inform the Dermatology nurse, if you feel that the treatment is causing excessive redness, irritation or burning sensations. If so, the dose you receive may need to be adjusted and you may require an earlier review by your Dermatologist.
  • Do not seek additional sunlight, whether it may be natural light or light from suntanning booths.
  • It may not be until you have received numerous treatments that you start noticing improvement in your symptoms. This may be because the initial doses you receive may not be the ideal therapeutic doses for your skin condition. Phototherapy doses are increased carefully during the course of your treatment. It would not be appropriate to start with high initial doses as some patients may be quite sensitive to even low doses.