All You Need to Know about the Home Phototherapy for Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic dermatosis that covers both physical, psychological, and social aspects of human life. Based on the data provided by the World Psoriasis Day consortium, psoriasis affects 125 million people worldwide which is 2 to 3 percent of the global population.
Facts About Psoriasis
- Psoriasis is an abnormal reaction of the body to external interventions.
- The upper layer of the skin dies off much faster than normal in some parts of the body.
- If usually, the cycle of cell division and maturation takes 3-4 weeks, in psoriasis, this process occurs in just 4-5 days.
- Psoriasis affects not only the skin condition but also the joints, kidneys, and liver.
- Psoriasis is considered a hereditary disease that is caused by a whole set of diverse factors and disorders.
What Causes Psoriasis?
Although there have been a large number of studies devoted to psoriasis, scientists can’t fully understand what provokes this disease. Psoriasis can affect people of any age and gender. Genetic predisposition is thought to be the major factor causing psoriasis.
There are two types of affected skin conditions to consider, so it is necessary to determine the type of psoriasis correctly to have the most efficient treatment.
Types of Psoriasis
Generally, physicians determine two types of psoriasis:
- Type I psoriasis is caused by hereditary dysregulation of the immune system. This form of psoriasis occurs at a young age, from 18 to 25.
- Type II psoriasis emerges in people over 40. This is an adult-onset type of psoriasis that isn’t inherited or associated with immune system disorders.
Common triggers of psoriasis are:
- emotional stress;
- infectious diseases;
- chronic infections (e.g. tonsillitis and maxillary sinusitis);
- usage of specific types of medicaments (like beta-blockers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents).
Psoriasis often occurs in places of skin damage, namely in the area of cuts, scratches, injections, combing, abrasions, and burns. We should also consider the influence of climatic factors.
Even though today we have a large number of methods and drugs for the treatment of psoriasis, there remains a certain percentage of patients resistant to any therapy.
This is why the medical community is constantly searching for new effective ways to treat this disease. Using UV light for relieving symptoms of psoriasis is one of those modern methods.
Almost all patients note the beneficial effect of the sun on the course of psoriasis. The reason for this is the effect of ultraviolet light, which is a part of the spectrum of solar radiation.
Psoriasis Conditions That Are Treated with Phototherapy
Psoriasis has various forms. Doctors give accent to six of the most common psoriasis conditions people suffer from worldwide: plaque psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, inverse psoriasis, pustular psoriasis, erythrodermic psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis.
This form is notable with derm helminthiasis with plaques – red-colored patches together with white hemolysis skin zones that contain dead cells. Plaque psoriasis often attacks a human’s elbows, scalp, and knees. However, it can be found on other body parts such as the lower back (waist), wrists, ankles, etc.
Plaque psoriasis brings discomfort to patients because the diseased skin hurts and itches. It often depends on the patient’s genes and his health history. Skin injury that is caused by inflammation or sunburn can become the trigger of plaque psoriasis.
Note that this skin condition is not contagious. Systematic and biological drugs as well as topical medications have poor effectiveness in comparison with UV treatment of plaque psoriasis.
It is available in the form of red-colored tiny spots that have a teardrop shape. Guttate psoriasis appears on the stomach, chest, arms, and shoulders.
There are three stages of this psoriasis type: mild, moderate, and severe. If the mild stage is notable with lesions that cover about 3% of the patient’s body, mild and severe stages are more harmful because when the total coverage is more than 10%, the disease migrates to entire body parts.
Guttate psoriasis spots have bacterial nature but genetic cases also occur. Stress and respiratory illnesses can be the triggers of the mild stage. Quality treatment is a must to stop the progression of guttate psoriasis.
Dermatologists recommend choosing ultraviolet treatment instead of creams, lotions, and other moisturizers that bring only temporary effects.
Derm helminthiasis is located on various skin folds; the skin becomes irritated; its color is mostly pinkish. Sometimes plaque fissures occur and add painful sensations and bring the risk of infectious inflammation.
When sweat appears on the damaged skin, a patient can feel itchiness and discomfort. Inverse psoriasis is usually caused by the gen disposition. At least one relative of the patient has the same skin condition.
Severe stages happen in case the human body is exposed to nicotine, alcohol, or vitamin deficiency. The most widespread methods of treatment are topical therapy (lotions, creams, etc.), pharmacotherapy, and phototherapy. The last way of dermal therapy is the most efficient and useful for patients with inverse psoriasis.
One of the most painful of psoriasis as the skin is reddish and covered with pus-filled pustules that are itchy. Pustular psoriasis attacks palms, soles, human fingers, and toes. This skin condition cannot be spread in contact with other people; it can have both a lesion form and a blister-shaped one.
Psoriasis-attacked zones can inflate and cause nail and bone damage. Among triggers, there are hormone changes, stress, and steroid use. The most efficient treatment against pustular psoriasis is phototherapy that with the help of UV light decimates painful sensations and heals the damaged areas.
This form of psoriasis occurs rarely but it attacks the whole human’s body. The skin becomes red; scales and pustule-filled blisters appear. It causes discomfort and pain. Itchy skin should be treated as soon as possible because erythrodermic psoriasis can cause more disorders including joint pain, heartbreak attacks, fever, etc.
In most cases, this skin condition is a severe form of plaque psoriasis that was not treated on time. Autoimmune changes and the negative impact of triggers (such as stress, alcohol, vitamin deficiency, smoking, etc.) transform the simple psoriasis form into an erythrodermic one.
Biopsy and lab tests are a must during the dermatologist’s examination. Doctors recommend a complex way of treatment when medical therapy and phototherapy are used.
When plaque psoriasis is combined with other severe illnesses of internal organs of the body (like heart illnesses, uveitis, etc.) psoriatic arthritis appears. It attacks human joints and causes inflammation. Joint deformity and swelling can be observed in the last stage of psoriatic arthritis.
Fingers and toes become swollen, the patient feels pain in their extremities. Other body parts are also at risk – back, chest, and shoulder pain is caused by psoriatic arthritis as well.
Anti-inflammatory drugs and phototherapy are used for treatment. The combination of these treatments is a must because most patients are the age of 40-60 and require a complex approach to recovery.
Phototherapy is suitable for each type of psoriasis – UV light therapy carefully affects the skin and relieves psoriasis symptoms.
How Does Phototherapy Work Against Psoriasis?
Light therapy is based on the use of ultraviolet radiation of spectrum A and B. Healthcare providers use it widely to deal with several dermatological diseases including psoriasis. Phototherapy has an immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effect. The UV light helps to restore the balance between the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory factors in the affected skin.
It also slows down the excessive division of skin cells, which is a natural process for psoriasis. This way rashes gradually become pale and less dense, scaliness disappears, and patients experience an anti-itching effect. The main methods of phototherapy for psoriasis include
- selective phototherapy based on the combined use of medium-wave (280-320 nm) and long-wave (320-400 nm) ultraviolet radiation;
- a narrow-band UVB light therapy for psoriasis (311nm);
- a PUVA therapy (therapy with long-wave ultraviolet radiation and furocoumarin photosensitizers).
UV Light for Psoriasis – What Kind Is the Most Effective?
The safest and most modern method for treating psoriasis is the narrow-band UVB light. A very narrow radiation range of 311nm helps to achieve the highest efficiency during the treatment.
Since narrow-band phototherapy allows performing the maximum focus on the affected areas, the radiation time is significantly reduced, minimizing the side effects such as redness and itching.
In contrast to greasy creams and hormone pills commonly used to cure psoriasis, UVB therapy is the safest and the most convenient treatment method recognized by doctors worldwide. It is especially suited for long-term use, as there is virtually no risk of developing skin neoplasms.
In the past, UVB treatment was available only in healthcare institutions. Yet, with the newly designed home UVB lamps, everyone can start treatment conveniently whenever the chronic disease appears.
Can You Use UVB Phototherapy at Home?
Phototherapy for psoriasis is a safe and effective treatment method that can be provided both in the clinic and at home. In 2017, Joel M. Gelfand – a Professor of Dermatology, started his clinical trial known as LITE to assess the effectiveness and safety of home-based phototherapy. Gelfand claims that home-based narrowband UVB equipment has become much safer and easier to use.
Using UVB phototherapy at home, patients can drastically reduce the time to arrive at the clinic. Besides, home phototherapy brings economic benefits. Just think that a patient suffering from psoriasis has to pay a lifetime cost of $11,498 to suppress the physical symptoms. Meanwhile, the annual economic pressure of psoriasis seizes $112 billion in the USA.
What Dose of the UVB Light Should a Patient Start With?
Once a patient starts a home-based UVB phototherapy, they should contact a physician for a medical examination and prescription. The initial dose of UV light is prescribed based on the individual sensitivity of the patient to phototherapy, their skin type (according to the classification known as the Fitzpatrick skin type), and the degree of tanning.
Note that any healthcare consumer cannot start treatment with a high dose of ultraviolet light. Even though narrow-band ultraviolet light is generally safe for the human body, the large and uncontrolled dose can cause burns and irritation on the skin as well. Therefore, you should start your phototherapy with a small dose of UV and slightly increase this dose with each procedure.
UVB Phototherapy at Home – Health and Safety
To make your sessions risk-free, take several helpful recommendations into consideration. Your doctor will provide the following instructions for safe treatment:
- Don’t apply lotion or moisturizer 24 hours before the procedure.
- Wear safety glasses during each treatment session (clinic and lamp providers offer such glasses to customers by default). These safety measures will prevent your eyesight from damage.
- If you are applying phototherapy only to certain areas of the body, make sure that all other areas are covered (with sunscreen or wearing apparel). This safety measure will prevent your skin from getting burned.
- If you are treating eyelids, you don’t need to wear safety glasses, but be sure to keep your eyes closed throughout the session.
- During the entire session, keep the correct distance from the device according to your doctor’s instructions and the phototherapy device’s instructions.
After phototherapy, you may experience redness, itching, or burning sensations. Phototherapy can dry out your skin. Apply an odorless moisturizer such as Eucerin, Aquaphor, or Cetaphil at least once a day. You may need to see your dermatologist, who treats your skin condition, or your ophthalmologist after some period of treatment.
Longevity and Periodicity of UVB Light Therapy Sessions
- The process of psoriasis treatment depends on the form of the disease and the overall health condition of a particular patient.
- Most patients require from 12-15 to 25-30 procedures.
- On average, 20 procedures are enough to achieve remission in the majority of cases.
- Depending on the situation, a patient should maintain one procedure per week to increase the remission period.
- Psoriasis cure procedures are performed 3-4 times a week until remission is achieved. If necessary, you should take 1 procedure a week to maintain the obtained results.
When Will You See The Effect Of The Treatment?
The results after the UVB light therapy for psoriasis are individual. Most healthcare consumers notice the initial effect of treatment after 2-3 procedures. However, healthcare providers recommend patients evaluate the effect within 2 weeks of the treatment.
It has to do with the fact that phototherapy has an accumulative result. At the beginning of the course, the ultraviolet dose is lower, and then it is gradually increased.
On a global scale, home phototherapy for psoriasis is a smart choice. It’s a safe and convenient treatment you can get from the comfort of your couch. Home light therapy will help you save precious time and avoid the inconveniences caused by the necessity of visiting the clinic. Besides, it’ll help you save your money for something more pleasant. It’s time to get rid of any physical and emotional issues caused by psoriasis!