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How does phototherapy treat plaque psoriasis?

Phototherapy (light therapy) treats plaque psoriasis by exposing the person to sunlight or to carefully controlled UV rays. UV rays kill activated T cells in the skin. This slows down the production of new skin cells and reduces both inflammation and scaly skin. Brief exposure to sunlight is the most common form of this treatment. Other forms of this treatment are administered by doctors using controlled exposure to UV rays from artificial light. This treatment also may be combined with medicines that increase a person's sensitivity to light.

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine

Light therapy or phototherapy involves regularly using an ultraviolet light to expose the skin. Phototherapy is done under medical supervision usually at your doctor's office or at a psoriasis clinic.

Once your doctor has an idea of how you will respond to phototherapy, you may get a phototherapy unit and do the light therapy at home. In phototherapy, UVB may be used as treatment for psoriasis. UVB penetrates your skin and in doing so, slows the excessive growth of skin cells. You will expose your skin to the UVB light source for a certain amount of time on a regular schedule. Your psoriasis may worsen some initially with phototherapy. Yet these reactions lessen with continued treatment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.