Phototherapy FAQs

Q. How long does it take to see if treatments are effective?
A. Whiel we do not know how many treatments will be needed, after 3-6 treatments patients should see results from light treatment.  Different diseases respond differently to treatment.  It is impotant to schedule for 2-3 times per week.  Please keep in mind that each individual is uniqie, so we are unable to determine an individual's response time. 

Q. Can I use topical medications with phototherapy?
A. Yes, Dr. Noah Scheinfeld believes that using multiple modalities, including topical treatment can help while the primary treatment is phototherapy.  But keep in mind that even mild topical corticosteroids can thin the skin and make it more prone to infections.  Luckily narrowband UVB has antibacterial properties. 

Q. How long will I receive treatments? Will treatments ever stop?
A. Phototherapy treats a variety  of conditions with treatments tailored to each patient for optimal results.  Even when your skin is cleared or itch has abated, it does not mean you are cured.  Once the skin condition is under control or clear to the eye, you will be placed on a maintenance schedule.  UVB reeducated the cells to act normally, so remission is possible.  

Q. Do I need to do anything before or after treatment?
A. Tanning can confound the treatment as it adds to the energy inputted into the skin.  Sunlight has UVA light which causes skin cancer, so keep that in mind and weat a hat and use sun block appropriately. 

Q. What should I expect after my treatment?
A. You may experience itch, "sunburn" sensation, meaning your skin may become pink or red in color, possibly tender, about 12 hours after a treatment in the UVB light box.  Goal of therapy is to reach that point, so your skin is just below the level of a sunburn. 

Q. Should I still receive treatment if I get burned?
A. Some have stated that "pale pink" is perfect.  Redness, pain, burning, or soreness are results you should expect to get.  Always inform the technician administering your treatment or call our office 212-991-6490 if you have any questions about your treatment. 

Q. Can flares occur when receiving treatments?
A. Yes, due to stress, unrelated infections, or allergic reactions or light exposure while outdoors can happen.  This just means we need to adjust the treatment.  A break or lowering the energy of the UVB treatment might be necessary.  If this happens we would continue on the same treatment program or might increase the frequency of treatments to help the flare subside. 

Q. Can I still use my current medications? What medications can interact with ultraviolet light treatments?
A. The best policy is to let us know of all the medications you are taking before and after you start phototherapy.  

Q. How long does each treatment take?
A. Treatment time varies by your skin type, that is how light ot dark your natural skin color is.  For a pale person, treatment time starts at approximately 36 seconds.  There is an algorithm for treatment duration and a series of questions to be answered prior to the start of treatment.  However, the time is increased at each visit as you increase the the energy inputted into your skin according to the algorithm and based on clinical observations. 

Q. Is phototherapy the same as going to a tanning box or going to the beach?
A. Phototherapy is a controlled medical treatment for serious skin diseases which abates skin disease and does not cause skin cancer.  The control allows to titrate your treatment.  The beach or cosmetic tanning salons do not have the same effect as phototherapy.  

Q. Can phototherapy cause skin cancer?
A. In assessing the incidence of skin cancers, in a study of 3867 patients treatd with nbUVB phototherapy, no significant association between nbUVB treatment and BCC, SCC or melanoma was found.  This deos not mean that UVB protects from skin cancer, only that it does not cause it. 

Q. What is the difference between nbUVB and excimer (XTRAC) laser?
A. Excimer laser is more prescice than nbUVB phottherapy, it gets more energy into the affected area such as with psoriasis and vitiligo.  To suppress new areas from developing disease, treatment with excimer laser and phototherapy box are useful to treat your skin condition.  


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