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Light Therapy (Phototherapy) continued...

Here are three types of light therapy for psoriasis.

1. Ultraviolet B (UVB) Therapy

What it is: Ultraviolet B (UVB) therapy uses the same type of ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight. It's used to treat psoriasis that doesn't respond to creams and lotions.

How it works: Your body is exposed to UVB light from a light box in a doctor's office or at home. The UVB light goes into your skin and slows skin cell growth.

Types of UVB therapy:

  • Broadband UVB therapy -- releases a wide band of ultraviolet light
  • Narrow-band UVB therapy -- releases a narrow band of ultraviolet light to target small areas of the skin
  • Goeckerman therapy -- you apply coal tar to the skin before being exposed to UVB light

Side effects can include skin irritation, redness, a burning or itching sensation, blisters, dry skin, sunburn, and a higher risk for skin cancer.

2. PUVA Therapy (Photochemotherapy)

What it is: You use a medicine called psoralen, which makes your skin more sensitive to light. Then you are exposed to ultraviolet A (UVA) light.

How it works: Psoralen is either applied to your skin or you take it by mouth. Thirty minutes to two hours later, your skin is exposed to ultraviolet A light. The light slows skin cell growth.

Side effects can include nausea (from oral psoralens), itching, redness, burns, blisters, freckles or aged skin, cataracts if you don’t wear sunglasses, and a higher risk for skin cancer, including melanoma.

3. Laser Treatment

What it is: A form of light therapy that uses lasers.

How it works: A thin beam of light targets psoriasis without affecting nearby skin.

Laser types:

  • Excimer laser -- releases a high-intensity beam of ultraviolet light
  • Pulsed dye laser -- destroys the tiny blood vessels that support the formation of psoriasis plaques

Side effects can include redness, blistering, bruising, or scarring.

Medications for Moderate to Severe Psoriasis

Medications that you take by pill or injection affect the whole body. Your doctor may recommend one of these four types of drugs if you haven't responded to topical creams or light therapy.

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