Photodynamic therapy, also known as blue light therapy, is used to treat certain forms of cancer, psoriasis, treatment-resistant acne and wet macular degeneration. It has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of esophageal cancer.
Photodynamic therapy is aimed at cancerous cells and uses a photosensitizing drug that becomes activated in the presence of light and a light source, in an oxygen-rich environment. It is an outpatient procedure that's performed in three stages. A light-sensitizing drug is first applied on the target tissue and allowed to incubate for a couple of minutes. The incubation period allows the drug to be absorbed by the cancerous tissue. It is then exposed to light of a specific wavelength that reacts with the drug in the presence of oxygen, which in turn forms a chemical that's toxic to the malignant cells.
Do's and Don'ts after Photodynamic Therapy
You should follow your specialist's instructions carefully after the treatment to ensure that you don't inadvertently cause any damage. The instructions will depend on the size of the procedure and on the area it is performed. It's best to stay indoors for a couple of days after the procedure. The treated area should be washed on a regular basis with water and a mild soap. It's best to avoid harsh cleaners because they can cause irritation and scarring.
Any of the antibiotic ointments available over the counter should be applied to lessen chances of infection. Sunscreens that contain zinc or titanium should be applied twice a day. The specialist will strongly advise you against the use of makeup until the area has healed completely. Ice packs can help control any swelling after photodynamic therapy. You could also sleep with the area in an elevated position so that you recover more quickly.
Lifestyle Changes after Photodynamic Therapy
If you have had photodynamic therapy for wet macular degeneration, it is necessary to have regular eye checkups to detect any recurrence of the bleeding from blood vessels. Since smoking can increase your chances of recurrence, it's best to avoid active and passive smoking to ensure that you don't lose more vision. You might need to take the assistance of low vision devices and services to help you make the most of the vision you do possess.
If you have had photodynamic therapy for esophageal cancer, you should avoid smoking. For psoriasis and skin cancer, it's best to avoid exposure to the sun and to use a sunscreen lotion before going outdoors. The photosensitive drugs that are used in the therapy cause a temporary sensitivity to light. The duration of sensitivity depends upon the type and amount of drug used. For as long as the sensitivity to light persists, it's necessary to protect yourself from both sunlight and indoor lighting with the use of sunglasses and clothing that allows minimal exposure of the body to light.
If you have signs of infection such as a fever, or an increase in the pain or swelling after the therapy, it's best to inform your specialist so that necessary action can be taken to control the infection.