Several options are available in the niche of eczema treatment and among these, light therapy is considered a safe and effective choice. Please note that light therapy doesn’t refer to a single type of treatment. Presently, there are two, main types of light treatment therapies that are considered useful for treating eczema. Both these treatment options are referred to as Phototherapy, which is the medical term for light therapy.
How Phototherapy Treats Eczema
Light therapy can clear symptoms of atopic and chronic dermatitis for extended periods of time and thus, its ability to alleviate similar, eczema symptoms cannot be doubted. Phototherapy uses the same concept used in light-based cosmetic treatments. Various kinds of penetrative lights are used for internal and external healing of the skin.
Since phototherapy uses lights of different wavelengths, it ensures that every type of eczema skin lesion can be penetrated and treated. This is perhaps the most comprehensive and undemanding way of alleviating cases of acute or exaggerated eczema symptoms. Here, the use of phototherapy is aimed at temporary suppression of eczema symptoms—this is often used as a primary treatment option before beginning the patient on a regimen of oral medications.
There are two types of phototherapy in eczema treatment: UV light therapy and PUVA.
UV Light Therapy
There are various ways in which ultraviolet or UV rays of a selected wavelength range are used. The dermatologist might use a combination of Ultraviolet A or UVA and Ultraviolet B or UVB or use UVA and UVB rays exclusively. The UV light is able to penetrate deep into the skin, causing thorough heating of the tissues. This initiates a process of skin healing that is very helpful in curing lesions caused by eczema. This also helps in restraining the bacterial infections present in eczema-affected skin. UV-based skin heating also helps to halt the exaggerated immune response of the body that is responsible for sudden flare-ups of eczema symptoms.
These variations are based on the inherent nature of the UV rays used for treating the skin--the wavelength range of UVB rays used during the treatment.
- Broadband Treatment
- Narrowband Treatment
Broadband treatment is looked upon as the more traditional choice that has been present for many decades. UVB rays used here are of a wide wavelength range and aren't very penetrative. Thus, more sessions are needed for gaining effective results. Usually, broadband treatment sessions last for up to four times in a week. Again, broadband treatment is not useful if excessive skin folding is present.
The narrowband approach uses a limited band of UV rays, but these are highly penetrative. Thus, there is an increased risk of harming the skin but results are visible in a lesser number of sessions.
PUVA is a more comprehensive light therapy wherein medications are combined with light therapy. PUVA is also referred to as Psoralen and ultraviolet A therapy or Psoralen + UVA treatment. Psoralen is the prescription medication that makes the skin more penetrable to UVA rays. PUVA cannot be recommended to all eczema sufferers since the highly potent nature of the treatment can induce a short period of worsening of symptoms or side-effects that might prove unbearable. Along with increased itching and burning of the skin, there is an increased risk of permanent discoloration or de-pigmentation of skin. Often, topical corticosteroids are needed to combat the side-effects of PUVA therapy. However, the effectivity of PUVA is underlined by the fact that it is used in treating skin cancer.