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Ultraviolet Light Therapy (UVB)

What is ultraviolet light therapy (UVB)?

Ultraviolet light therapy uses a particular band of the non-visible light spectrum to treat patients with psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, dermatitis and other skin conditions.  The patient undresses and exposes the areas to be treated and stands in a specifically designed cabinet containing fluorescent light tubes.  Increasing doses are given at each exposure, typically three times per week for six weeks or until the skin condition has cleared.  The aim is to turn the skin slightly pink but not to burn it.

Are there any side effects to UVB phototherapy?

Some patients may experience uncomfortable sunburn after a treatment, at its worst about 8 hours after treatment.  The sunburn may fade over a few days and should be treated with generous amounts of emollients.

Exposure to UV radiation is known to prematurely age the skin over time and increase the risk of skin cancer.  These potential effects should be weighed against the potential benefits of the treatment.  A history will be taken regarding sun exposure and burning, medications, such as diuretics, that may increase UV sensitivity exposure, and any history of skin cancers.  Sometimes UV light treatments are given in combination with photosensitizing agents, which maximize UV’s effects on the skin. Patients who receive these agents, called psoralens, must take care to avoid exposure to sunlight, which also contains UV radiation.  Exposure to UV radiation can also cause cataracts and other eye damage, so the patient’s eyes must be adequately shielded during the treatments.

How much does it cost?

The UVB treatments at St Leonards Dermatology & Laser are bulk billed to patients with Medicare and a valid referral from their GP.