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
Hair grows everywhere on the human skin except on the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet, but many hairs are so fine they're virtually invisible. Hair is made up of a protein called keratin that is produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin. As follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin at the rate of about six inches a year. The hair you can see is actually a string of dead keratin cells. The average adult head has about...
Short-term side effects when using PUVA to treat psoriasis
Skin redness, headache,
Nausea from the medicine.
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.
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