Phototherapy treatment can treat the inflammation and itchiness caused by eczema. Pulses of UV light are passed over the affected skin, both widespread over the body and localised to hands or feet.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a group of conditions that cause the skin to become itchy, dry and cracked, causes inflammation, and produces a rash. Flare-ups are often triggered by a reaction to certain environmental factors such as laundry detergent or dish soap, allowing the skin to become too dry and stressed.
Why Have Eczema Treatment? Am I eligible?
Eczema flare-ups are a daily irritant and can be very painful and interfere with daily tasks. It will affect sleep and general quality of life and can have a knock-on psychological impact. Having treatment to control and eradicate what may be a daily issue will improve comfort and happiness while improving skin health and wellbeing. Phototherapy is used to treat moderate to severe atopic eczema, also called atopic dermatitis. You may be a candidate if eczema covers a wide area of skin.
Treatment is not recommended if:
- If your skin condition is exacerbated by sunlight
- If you are on immunosuppressant medication such as cyclosporine or methotrexate
- If you are on medications that make you more sensitive to light
Benefits of Phototherapy Include:
- It is a treatment option where other topical or medication therapies don’t work
- It may help clear your skin
- You may experience fewer eczema rashes in the future
- It may decrease the need for using topical medications
- No aftercare is necessary
Risks of Phototherapy:
- Sunburn and skin tenderness (common)
- Premature skin ageing (common)
- Photosensitive skin eruptions
- Nonmelanoma skin cancer
- Cataracts (from UVA treatment)
What to Expect From Phototherapy Treatment for Eczema
A professional clinician administers phototherapy; moisturiser is applied to the affected areas and will provide you with goggles to protect the eyes from UV light. Depending on how much of the body is involved, you will either stand in a cabinet that contains UV bulbs, or the clinician will use a handheld wand for smaller, more specific areas. Beams of UV light at particular wavelengths are passed over the affected areas, exposure time varies from several seconds to a few minutes, and UV light inhibits the inflammatory response caused by the immune system affecting the skin. This also influences cell division, regulating the process and reducing reactive symptoms such as itching.
How Much Does Phototherapy Cost?
- Phototherapy sessions cost approximately £100; patients will commonly need 18 treatments to see effective results. Therefore, the total cost will sum to £1,800.
- In addition, the NHS offers topical therapies such as emollients, steroid creams, and sometimes systemic medications. They also provide advice on what triggers flare-ups and how to avoid them. Phototherapy is uncommonly offered to patients but is an option upon referral to a dermatologist, which comes with a waiting time of many weeks.