Skip to content

    Eczema Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Psoralen Plus Ultraviolet Light Therapy (PUVA) for Atopic Dermatitis

    Psoralen plus ultraviolet light therapy (PUVA) combines a type of medicine (psoralen) with ultraviolet A (UVA) light to treat atopic dermatitis. The psoralen makes the skin more sensitive to the ultraviolet light. PUVA can be an effective treatment for severe atopic dermatitis.

    An example of a psoralen is methoxsalen (Oxsoralen).

    A psoralen medicine is taken 1½ to 2 hours before exposure to UVA light. This treatment is repeated 2 to 3 times a week, and treatment length varies. The dose of medicine is not increased, but the amount of light can be increased.

    During photochemotherapy, you stand in a booth that contains light tubes that give off UV light. Goggles should be worn to protect your eyes during treatment. Men need to shield their genitals to avoid an increased risk of genital cancer.

    What To Expect After Treatment

    As your skin recovers from treatment, it should be checked frequently (at least once or twice a year) for signs of damage or skin cancer.

    Why It Is Done

    PUVA is usually only used for adults who have severe and hard-to-treat cases of atopic dermatitis. It typically is not recommended for children.

    How Well It Works

    PUVA is effective in managing hard-to-treat atopic dermatitis.

    Risks

    Risks related to PUVA treatment include:

    • Skin cancer and cancer. Exposure to UV light may result in skin cancer. The male genitals are highly susceptible to the cancer-causing effects of UV therapy.
    • Skin damage. Exposure to UV light may lead to sunburn and skin damage.
    • Cataracts. The risk of cataracts can be reduced by regular use of sunglasses that block UV light when you are outdoors.
    • Other skin diseases getting worse.

    What To Think About

    Because of the side effects, PUVA is not generally recommended for children unless all other treatment fails to control severe atopic dermatitis.

    Complete the special treatment information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.

    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
    Specialist Medical ReviewerAmy McMichael, MD - Dermatology

    Current as ofMarch 12, 2014

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    Today on WebMD

    woman meditating
    Learn how to deal with a key trigger: stress.
    scratching
    Getting your eczema under control?
     
    man with eczema
    Does it affect your eczema?
    makeup brushes and foundation
    And be educated when shopping for cosmetics.
     
    Antipsychotic Drugs Blood Clots
    Article
    Eczema Emotional Effects
    Video
     
    young woman touching skin
    Video
    Eczema on arm
    Slideshow
     

    Itching for Relief?

    Get Help With the

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.