What Is Phototherapy?

Phototherapy, or light therapy, is a treatment that uses certain types of light typically prescribed by a dermatologist, to treat various skin conditions. Involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light on a regular basis and under medical supervision.

Treatments are done in a doctor's office, psoriasis clinic, or at home with a phototherapy unit. The key to success with light therapy is consistency.

At Chicago Skin Clinic, this treatment can be prescribed for:

  • Slow rapidly growing skin cells
  • Suppress an overly active immune system
  • Reduce inflammation and allow the skin to heal
  • Reduce or eliminate the itch


​How to Use Light Therapy

Chicago Skin Clinic offers narrow band UVB light therapy. You stand in a light box or a light source is passed over your skin. The treatment takes between 1-2 min of light exposure.

To be effective, most patients need two or three phototherapy treatments a week.

Possible Side Effects

While phototherapy is considered safe, medical treatments carry possible side effects. With phototherapy, the possible side effects that can happen immediately after treatment include:

  • Sunburn-like reaction (red or tender skin)
  • Mild stinging or burning
  • Dark spots on the skin (more common in people who have a medium to dark complexion)
  • Itching
  • Blisters (rare)
  • Burn (rare)

After each treatment, your skin should be a little red or pink. This is desirable and not considered a side effect.

  • Possible long-term side effects include:
  • Freckles
  • Early skin aging (age spots, wrinkles, loose skin)
  • Increased risk of developing skin cancer

Under a dermatologist’s care, these long-term side effects can be managed.

What to Discuss With Our Dermatologists

If you use phototherapy to treat psoriasis, our dermatologists will check you after you have had several treatments, usually four to six in the beginning.

These checkups are essential, so be sure to keep all of your appointments. During these appointments, you should notify us if you have:

  • Any side effects
  • Worsening psoriasis after phototherapy
  • Missed more than two appointments

If you miss appointments, it’s unlikely that phototherapy will be helpful for you. Research shows that patients see steady improvement only when they receive phototherapy two to five times per week.

UVB phototherapy is a safe and effective treatment option for patients with psoriasis, eczema, vitiligo, and other photo-responsive disorders.

The key to success with phototherapy is consistency. To achieve optimal results, patients must commit to at least 20 sessions of treatment. With the appropriate safety and skin care precautions are taken, phototherapy can help patients safely achieve rapid skin clearance and long-lasting remission.

We hope this information will be valuable for patients preparing for UVB phototherapy.

If you would like to know if this treatment is an option for your skin condition, please contact us to schedule an appointment with one of our dermatologists at Chicago Skin Clinic.