Phototherapy Narrowband UV

Phototherapy at a Glance

  • Best Results2-20 weeks
  • Treatment Recovery0 Days
  • Procedure Time1-5 minutes
  • Skin SpecialistDermatologist
  • Duration of ResultsVariable
  • AnaestheticPainless
  • Back to WorkImmediately
  • CostNo charge (Medicare)

Phototherapy Narrowband UV

Phototherapy harnesses the energy of light to naturally treat conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis & vitiligo. Depending on the condition, dermatologists employ UVA, UVB, blue, red & yellow light to naturally remedy some conditions. Phototherapy sessions take a few minutes to perform, with a frequency that ranges from one to three times a week. Most cases are covered under Medicare.

FactsFacts On Phototherapy

  • Phototherapy can treat skin conditions ranging from acne, vitiligo, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis & many more
  • The most common form of medical phototherapy uses narrowband UVB
  • Medical phototherapy reduces skin inflammation, reducing the requirement for drugs including steroid creams
  • Phototherapy takes a few minutes to perform with little if no side effects
  • Medicare pays for this treatment, so there is no out of pocket expense
  • Results from phototherapy can be seen within 2 weeks of starting

What is phototherapy?

Phototherapy is a broad term that refers to light therapy. In the context of this page, it refers specifically to narrowband UVB. Narrow Band light therapy delivers a precise, calculated dose of light in a photobooth. The procedure is done in the clinic & is supervised by dermatologists. It is considered as a medical treatment under Medicare. 

Phototherapy can also be delivered using light emitting diodes that emit blue, red, & yellow light. This form of phototherapy is used to treat acne, wound healing & anti-aging. This form of phototherapy is considered as cosmetic & is discussed in other sections of this website.

What conditions can be treated with phototherapy?

Dermatologists employ different forms of light therapy based upon certain skin conditions. We use UVA, UVB, Narrowband UVB, blue, red, & yellow light.

  • Blue light phototherapy is suitable for acne.
  • Red Light phototherapy is best for anti-aging & reducing inflammation.
  • Narrowband phototherapy is used to treat psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, & many more inflammatory conditions.

*Medicare classified blue & red light as cosmetic. A rebate does not apply. Rebates apply for narrowband UVB under the guidance of a dermatologist.

What is involved in Phototherapy treatment?

Phototherapy treatment is performed at Cutis clinic and is overseen by dermatologists.

  • Phototherapy patients will initially have a consultation with a Dermatologist who will review your medical history and assess your suitability for phototherapy treatment.
  • During your appointment your dermatologist will determine your starting dose in phototherapy. You can start this treatment on the same day as the consultation.
  • Your phototherapy protocol will depend on the condition being treated, but typically patients have 3 sessions a week, every two days, so either a Monday, Wednesday and Friday or a Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. A standard course is around 6 weeks.
  • The process is as simple as stepping into a private phototherapy booth for 30 to 200 seconds.
  • The booth is computer activated and you are exposed to the UVB light while fans keep you cool and well ventilated.
  • Following the treatment session, you can leave and return to work or home.

How does phototherapy work?

Narrowband phototherapy works by reducing skin inflammation that is responsible for cases of vitiligo, psoriasis & eczema. Phototherapy with red & blue light can also kill the bacteria in acne lesions. Dermatologists may suggest phototherapy if you have severe flare-ups that your usual treatment – like moisturisers and anti-inflammatory medical creams – doesn’t help enough. It can completely clear many skin problems, but it’s not usually a permanent cure and you may need more treatments.

Phototherapy can also enhance the production of pigment by your skin cells known as melanocytes, thus it can re-pigment areas of vitiligo. 

Davin’s Viewpoint: Phototherapy

Phototherapy is a broad term to describe light in a narrow wavelength as well as in a concentrated spectrum known as low level laser therapy (LLLT). This also extends to LED or light emitting diodes. Light plays an important role in the biology of skin. Depending on the wavelength of light, the fluence & the presence of chromophores or targets, light can heal or conversely light can destroy.

This page refers primarily to narrowband phototherapy or nUVB. This form of phototherapy has been adopted by dermatologists throughout the world for the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions including psoriasis, lichen planus, atopic & exogenous dermatitis, as well as vitiligo. It can also be used to treat rare skin conditions such as lymphomas, morphea, PLEVA & over a dozen other conditions. In this role, UV modulates cellular inflammation.

Narrowband phototherapy is one of the most useful treatments for vitiligo as it can offer efficient, safe treatments with no cost to patients. Treatments are bulk billed under Medicare. In this context phototherapy also encourages melanocyte migration & melanin production. An analogy of narrowband phototherapy is the excimer laser or excimer-like 308 nm lamp; essentially 3 nm short of the nUVB wavelength. I have used this device before (308 laser). It can be effective in spot treatments for vitiligo however Medicare does not recognise this service, & hence nUVB is more cost effective, saving patients over five to nine thousand dollars a year.

In other sections of this website, I discuss other forms of phototherapy including red, blue & yellow light as well as photodynamic therapy.

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