UVB Light Therapy

UVB light therapy is one of the many treatment options available for people with eczema. But what is it really?

From medical conditions, to damage from environmental exposure, or even during daily activities, our skin takes a beating.  Eczema affects the skin, and individuals with this chronic skin disorder are embarrassed to expose their face, arms, and legs because of what eczema leaves in its wake: patches, flakes, and scaly red skin.

Besides traditional treatments with pills and creams, therapies for eczema have gotten better with the availability and access to technology. One treatment that has become popular for eczema is ultra-violet B (UVB) light therapy. UVB light therapy uses a light that treats the surface of the skin to destroy the patches and blistering from eczema.

To determine if UVB light therapy is appropriate for patients with eczema, medical professionals should work with the patient to review the medical history, determine the severity of eczema, and assess the pros and cons of this type of treatment.

Types of UBV Therapy

There are two types of UVB light therapy procedures: broadband and narrowband.

  • Broadband: This type of treatment is done 3 to 5 times per week. Noted as the oldest treatment around for over 80 years, this is the most effective way to treat eczema.
  • Narrowband: This type of treatment is done 2 to 3 times per week. Hailed as the newest treatment out there, the "narrowband" projects lesser amount of radioactive light than a traditional UVB treatment.

Effectiveness

  • Whether or not a patient opts for a broadband or narrowband treatment, both choices will yield the same benefit. 
  • These procedures are designed to affect the immune system, which will reduce the flare up of eczema symptoms.
  • Light therapy does reduce the severity of eczema.
  • Light therapy reduces the amount of bacterial infections, because the damaged skin is no longer exposed due to the light treatment.
  • Patients may be able to discontinue or reduce steroid treatment after the skin improves from the light treatment.

Cons

  • UVB broadband therapy is more time consuming because it takes a longer amount of time for treatment and is inconvenient.
  • UVB narrowband therapy carries a higher risk of serious skin burns. 
  • Currently, there is no research to prove if there is no long-term risk of developing cancer following UVB treatments.
  • Treatment is not effective on areas where skin tends to fold.
  • Not recommended for individuals who have eczema flare-ups from sunlight or environmental conditions. These treatments could worsen eczema.
  • May cause further damage to the skin.


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