Skip to content

Psoriasis Health Center

Font Size

Alopecia Areata: Psoralen With Ultraviolet A Light (PUVA) Therapy - Topic Overview

PUVA therapy combines a medicine (called a psoralen) and treatment with ultraviolet A (UVA) light. The psoralen increases the skin's sensitivity to UV light, including sunlight. The psoralen is taken either as a pill or by putting it on the skin directly. Then the skin is exposed to UVA. Treatments are done regularly for 4 to 6 months.

PUVA is used when alopecia areata affects most of the scalp or areas of skin other than the scalp. It may also be used when other treatments cannot be used or have not worked.

Recommended Related to Hair Loss

Cosmetic Procedures for Hair Loss

The most common cause of hair loss in both men and women is genetic. In fact, heredity accounts for 95% of all the cases of alopecia (baldness) in this country. The remaining 5% of the cases can be due to a number of things including diet, stress, illness, or medications. Factors that can cause hair loss include: Medications, vitamins, or minerals. Drugs used to treat high blood pressure, heart problems, depression, or gout; chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer patients; and...

Read the Cosmetic Procedures for Hair Loss article > >

Short-term side effects when using PUVA to treat psoriasis include:

Psoralens applied to the skin (topical) may help you avoid some side effects of PUVA. Topical psoralens may be used for alopecia areata that affects smaller areas of the skin. They may be especially helpful when psoralens taken by mouth (oral) cause severe nausea.

Topical psoralens, such as those given in bath water, are as effective as oral psoralens. But if light treatments are given in a doctor's office, they may be less convenient.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    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.
    1
    Next Article:

    Alopecia Areata: Psoralen With Ultraviolet A Light (PUVA) Therapy Topics

    Today on WebMD

    Woman sitting in front of UV lights
    About 7.5 million people in the U.S. Get to know what to do about it.
    stress and psoriasis
    What might spark your psoriasis today?
     
    woman bathing
    Relax and heed these eight tips.
    woman applying lotion
    It starts in the immune system. Read on.
     
    Top Psoriasis Treatments To Try At Home
    Article
    Woman sitting in front of UV lights
    Slideshow
     
    Beware Miracle Diets For Psoriasis
    Article
    Psoriasis Laser Therapy
    Video
     
    10 Questions About Psoriasis To Ask Your Doctor
    Article
    psoriasis on elbow
    Article
     
    Psoriasis (Moderate to Severe)
    Article
    Psoriatic Arthritis Do You Know The Symptoms
    Article