Tanning Beds & Psoriasis Relief: Facts You Need to Know

February 7, 2024

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Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting over 8 million Americans. This condition causes raised, scaly red plaques on the skin that can be itchy, painful, and greatly diminish quality of life. For mild to moderate psoriasis, targeted light therapy brings safe, effective relief by calming inflammation and clearing lesions.

What is Light Therapy and How Does It Help Psoriasis?

Light therapy uses ultraviolet (UV) radiation to reduce psoriasis symptoms. Controlled doses of UV rays with specific wavelengths can slow skin cell turnover, decrease inflammation, and help normalize immune function. This leads to improvements in psoriatic plaques.

There are three main forms of light therapy for psoriasis treatment:

  • Narrowband UVB – Emits wavelengths between 311-313 nm
  • Broadband UVB – Wide range of UVB wavelengths
  • Excimer laser – Precisely delivers 308 nm UVB light

Of these, narrowband UVB is considered first-line. It balances high efficacy and safety for plaque clearance. Excimer laser therapy offers more focused treatment.

Light therapy works by inducing immunomodulatory changes at cellular level in affected skin zones. The UV irradiation reduces activity of T cells and other immune mediators promoting inflammation. This helps calm plaque formation.

Simultaneously, UV light slows growth rate of skin cells. This combined anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative effect allows lesions to heal. Continued light sessions can sustain remission.

Home vs Clinic Light Therapy for Psoriasis

Patients have two options for administering therapeutic UV light:

Home phototherapy devices allow self-treatment in a convenient setting. Small box-shaped units deliver targeted narrowband UVB on limited skin areas. Senselights producing excimer laser UVB also gaining popularity.

Over 75% see marked improvement with careful home light therapy. Maintenance sessions often needed.

Full phototherapy systems in clinics permit whole-body exposure under medical supervision. Advanced filters provide precise wavelengths/doses tailored to each case. Higher intensity treatment for moderate/severe psoriasis.

Allows customized programs for maximal response. Inconvenience of in-office therapy motivates transition to home devices.

Within each environment, treatment parameters can be adjusted based on disease severity and patient tolerability:

Table 1. Light Therapy Administration Guidelines

ParameterAdjustment Options
WavelengthNarrowband UVB, broadband UVB, excimer laser
IntensityIncrease/decrease mW/cm2 unit intensity
Exposure timeLengthen/shorten seconds/minutes
Number of sessions/weekIncrease for higher frequency
Total number of treatmentsMore for severe, chronic cases

Doctors develop an optimal light dosing regimen based on the above considerations after assessing the case.

What Results May I Expect From Light Therapy for My Psoriasis?

With regular phototherapy sessions, most patients enjoy significant relief of plaques within 6-12 weeks. Many achieve near or full clearance. Consistent long-term light exposure often sustains remission.

The key benchmarks in gauging treatment progress are:

Psoriasis Area & Severity Index (PASI) Improvement

  • PASI 75 – 75% or better reduction in affected skin zones
  • PASI 90 – 90% or better clearance of plaques
  • PASI 100 – Complete resolution of psoriatic lesions

Over 75% of patients attain PASI 75 or better with narrowband UVB therapy. Excimer laser may yield 80-90% clearance. Combining light therapy with topicals boosts results.

Some plaques may return after ending phototherapy, but reintroducing occasional maintenance sessions controls recurrence. Patients may continue light treatments indefinitely without cumulative side effects.

What Are Light Therapy Options I Can Use at Home?

Here are examples of home phototherapy equipment providing narrowband UVB treatment under 300 USD:

  • Daavlin 7 Series – Full body or half body fluorescent bulb cabinet
  • Natralight 1000 – Half body mini stand-up light booth
  • Dr. Gohara Dual Light Therapy Wand – Handheld wand with precision flash head

For excimer laser therapy, the SENSA and LaserCap devices are suitable for home use. Price is 1000-2500 USD.

Always consult your dermatologist before purchasing any at-home light unit. Obtain the necessary guidance to use such devices safely per standards.

Frequently Asked Questions About Light Therapy

Is light therapy cancerous with long-term use?

There are no definite increased skin cancer risks with modern, controlled phototherapy. However, patients should minimize UV exposure from other sources like the sun or tanning beds.

How often should I get light therapy sessions?

Most patients need exposures 2-3 times per week. Higher frequency treatment accelerates response, then maintenance sessions continue 1-2 times monthly.

What are side effects or risks with light boxes?

Phototherapy is very well-tolerated overall. Temporary redness, itching or dry skin may occur. Rarely, blistering or burns happen if optimal dose exceeded.

Can I self-administer home light therapy?

Yes, at-home narrowband UVB devices are safe for patient self-use once properly instructed on treatments by the prescribing doctor. However, clinical supervision is still preferred.

Will insurance cover costs of light therapy?

Many plans cover in-office phototherapy. Home units range 350-2500 USD but check provisions in your medical insurance policy for possible reimbursement.

Summary of Key Points on Light Therapy for Psoriasis

  • Light therapy uses UV rays of precise wavelengths to treat lesions through anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects
  • Narrowband UVB is a preferred option showing excellent efficacy and safety
  • Home light devices allow self-administered convenience while clinic therapy permits customization
  • Most patients achieve marked improvements within 6-12 weeks of regular phototherapy
  • Light therapy is very well-tolerated with minimal side effects or risks
  • At-home equipment ranges 350-2500 USD, with possible insurance coverage

For mild or moderate plaque psoriasis unresponsive to topicals, light therapy presents an exceptional path to safe, simple and effective treatment with long-lasting skin clearance. Discuss options with your dermatologist to see if this regimen suits your needs.

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