Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, can be a good treatment option for people whose eczema hasn’t improved with topical treatments. Phototherapy can reduce itching and inflammation, increase the production of vitamin D, and support bacteria-fighting in the skin.
There are two main types of phototherapy. The more common treatment uses ultraviolet B light (UVB). PUVA therapy is a less common option that uses ultraviolet A light (UVA) in combination with a medication called Psoralen. Phototherapy can be used to treat large or small areas of eczema.
To be effective, light therapy must be consistent and can require a significant time commitment. “Treatments will be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Two hours before the treatment she has to take the medication and then go for the PUVA therapy,” a parent of a child with eczema wrote.
At-home options for UVB therapy can make it easier to stay consistent with treatments and are covered by some insurance plans.
About 70 percent of people see improvement with consistent phototherapy over time. Members of MyEczemaTeam have had a wide range of experiences. “It took about a year of twice-a-week trips to have it done, but the end result was spectacular!” one member commented.
“I had 35 sessions of phototherapy. It helped every part of my body except my face,” a member shared. Another member had the opposite experience: “It worked miracles on the eczema on my face but made almost no difference to the eczema on my body.”
Some members found the benefits stopped as soon as they ended treatment. “I did light therapy and the eczema went away completely, then as soon as I finished it came back immediately.”
Both UVA and UVB light therapies carry risks, including sunburn, skin aging, skin cancer, and eye damage if proper eye protection isn’t used. You should limit your sun exposure when undergoing phototherapy. Your doctor can help determine what precautions you should take to manage the associated risks.
On MyEczemaTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with eczema, members talk about a range of personal experiences and struggles. Light therapy is one of the most-discussed topics.
Here are some conversations about light therapy:
“I started doing phototherapy treatments but it hasn't helped yet.”
“Nearing the end of my 30 phototherapy sessions. Not sure if it has helped or not.”
“I finished light therapy treatment two months ago and I had beautiful skin for the first time in years.”
Here is a question-and-answer thread about light therapy:
Can you relate? How do you prevent or reduce flares? Share your experiences at MyEczemaTeam.com.