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Phototherapy is a treatment which delivers ultraviolet light to the skin to treat a variety of conditions including psoriasis, atopic eczema, dermatitis and polymorphic light eruption. Therapy works by penetrating the skin and slowing the growth of affected skin cells.

At The Holly Hospital, our UV cabin offers both UVA and UVB phototherapy. We also provide localised UV therapy for hands and feet. Our physiotherapy department has more than 15 years of providing a phototherapy service with treatment provided by fully qualified staff specifically trained in phototherapy.

Can I have phototherapy?

Phototherapy is useful in treating a variety of conditions, particularly for patients whose skin condition has not responded to topical treatments:

  • Psoriasis
  • Pityriasis
  • Eczema
  • Polymorphic light eruption
  • Vitiligo
  • Alopecia
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Mycosis fungoides
  • Pruritis
  • Acne

You will need to be referred to this service by a consultant dermatologist before you can be treated.

Which type of phototherapy?

Ultraviolet light is made up of different wavelengths, including the two forms that are used in light therapy – ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB).

We offer UVB narrow-band phototherapy at Holly which focuses on a small part of the light spectrum, avoiding some of the more harmful wavelengths. It is more intensive than broad-spectrum UVB, so treatment times are shorter.

Long-wave ultra-violet light (UVA) is given together with a drug called psoralen which temporarily sensitises your skin to the light. Psoralen can be either be taken orally in tablet form or applied to the skin as a lotion and together this combination treatment is known as PUVA. It is a more intensive treatment, so will usually only be recommended if treatment with UVB has not worked.

What does phototherapy involve?

Your first session will consist of an assessment based on the type of UV therapy your consultant has recommended, either UVA or UVB. Your therapist will also usually carry out a skin test to determine how you react to UV light and familiarise you with the UV cabin.

After your initial assessment, treatment sessions last between a few seconds for UVB up to ten minutes or more for UVA. You will be asked to undress down to your underwear and be given protective goggles to wear before standing in our UV cabinet for the treatment.

How many treatments do I need?

Treatment plans are tailored to your individual needs and depend on how your body responds to treatment. Most patients attend two to three times a week for a course of approximately 20 treatments.