Ultraviolet Light Therapy

Independent dermatologists consulting from ESD provide phototherapy, which is a form of ultraviolet light treatment that dermatologists are able to offer patients suffering with a variety of skin disorders.

Common disorders which can be treated include:

  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema/Dermatitis
  • Vitiligo (loss of skin pigment)
  • Pityriasis rosea

Less common disorders include:

  • Lichen planus
  • Cutaneous lymphoma
  • Chronic organ disorders such as kidney and liver failure which manifest as itching of the skin
  • Some pregnant women in their last trimester of pregnancy can develop generalised itch that can be alleviated with phototherapy (cholestasis of pregnancy)

The doctor prescribes a course of therapy for each patient during which their progress is monitored. For each treatment the patient is required to stand in a chamber lined with panels of ultraviolet lights. There is also a small UVB machine specifically for treating hands and/or feet, if these are the only areas affected.

There are two types of UV therapy:

  • Narrow band UVB (available from the independent dermatologists consulting from  ESD)
  • PUVA (not available from the independent dermatologists consulting from ESD)

The most frequently used treatment is narrow band UVB. The UVA treatment is the combination of long wave ultra violet (UVA) and a photosensitising chemical, which is either applied as a lotion to specific areas or taken in tablet form to treat widespread areas of skin involvement.

Skin types:

A patient’s skin type refers to the colour of their skin and how likely a patient is to get burnt. This classification is used when assessing the dose regimen for ultraviolet light therapy. Skin types include:

  • Type I – Always burn, never tan
  • Type II – Always burn, then slight tan
  • Type III – Sometimes burn, always tan
  • Type IV – Rarely burn, always tan
  • Type V – Yellow-brown races
  • Type VI – Black or negroid skin

Adjustments to the routine dose may be made during the course of phototherapy for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Too long a gap between treatments
  • Skin areas becoming pink
  • The skin disorder not responding as expected

Protective eyewear, and sometimes a full face mask, must be worn during treatments. Application of sunscreen may be required for certain areas. The ultraviolet light penetrates the skin more effectively if a moisturizer is applied to affected areas prior to exposure. Perfumed moisturizers should be avoided as these may irritate the skin.

Because phototherapy is a form of light exposure, overexposure can increase the risk of skin cancer and accelerate ageing of the skin. Research and clinical studies have indicated the risk of skin cancer is more evident with PUVA therapy. To avoid this, patients with a past history of multiple skin cancers are excluded.

Medicare claims

Most of the cost of phototherapy treatment is covered by Medicare. Your dermatologist may require you to pay a minimal ‘gap’ fee. Your dermatologist may offer bulk billing for each light treatment if you are a pensioner or government Health Care Card holder.

Following your initial consultation, your dermatologist  may allow you to attend phototherapy treatments on a ‘walk-in’ basis during practice hours from Monday to Friday. Your dermatologist will monitor and review periodically your progress during the course of your treatment.

experts in skincare

Dermatologists consulting from Eastern Suburbs Dermatology provide consultative and procedural services are all Fellows of the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

Practising individual dermatologists consulting from Eastern Suburbs Dermatology have sub-specialisation interests in paediatric dermatology, surgical dermatology, and women’s and cosmetic dermatology.