Narrow-Band UVB is the administration of light to treat various skin diseases including psoriasis. Previously, many different wavelengths of light (broad band) in the ultraviolet B spectrum were given to treat skin diseases. However, it was found that giving only very limited wavelengths (narrow band) of light was more effective, while offering an apparently better side effect profile in the form of less burning, skin damage, and possibly skin cancer.
You will begin treatments at three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) unless otherwise specified by Dr Becker. If you attend less than 2 – 3 times per week on average, your response to phototherapy may not be optimal. We usually start your treatments at a dose that suits your skin type. Over the treatment period, your time in the light cabinet will gradually increase from around thirty seconds to 5 minutes.
Treatments are continued until the skin has “cleared”. The average patient will clear in about 25 visits (about 8 weeks). Some patients may need longer therapy to improve the response or to maintain the response. Usually it is not necessary to call reception if you are going to miss a treatment appointment. Your treatment will be adjusted accordingly.
Prior to Phototherapy Treatment
Before you arrive at our office, you will be asked to apply plain moisturiser to your skin prior to the treatment. Please DO NOT apply any medicated creams prior to your treatment. You certainly may bring them with you to apply after you leave the booth. Also do not apply perfumes or aftershave. Please remove all necklaces, bracelets, and watches before entering the booth.
You should also apply a broad spectrum sunscreen to the light exposed areas of your body including lips and nipples, before entering the booth to prevent further sunburn or sun damage.
You MUST tell the nurse if you start any new medications by mouth, because certain medicines may make you more sensitive to light and more apt to burn. You should also not start any new herbal medications while you are undergoing phototherapy as they may make you more sensitive to light.
Genitals must always be covered/protected whilst in the machine. Ensure that you bring a similar style of underwear each appointment. This will avoid a sunburn reaction of previously non-exposed skin. If your buttocks are affected, a G-string or jockstrap can be worn.
The ultraviolet sunglasses and mask are to be worn at all times whilst in the machine. This also applies even when you wear a cover over your head.
Once the lights have gone out the treatment is finished and you can exit the machine. The door is magnetized and never locked, therefore you are able to stop the treatment if necessary.
Moisturize as needed. During the time you are receiving UVB treatment, avoid sunbathing and other sun exposing activities.
Possible side effects
- Common symptoms include some minor dryness or itching. This will reverse with regular use of moisturizer.
- Use eye protection to prevent red sore eyes.
- A sunburn like reaction can occasionally occur despite careful dosing of UVB. This can also be caused by increased light sensitivity due to new medications started while receiving light therapy. You must inform the nurse if you are starting any new herbal, alternate or traditional medications.
- You will probably become more tanned during treatment.
- Long term: premature aging and theoretical risk of increased non melanoma type skin cancer may be a potential side effect after years of light exposure.
If you have any concerns about your phototherapy or potential side effects during your course please ask the team when you attend for your next appointment.
Other important hints
- Report to your doctor or nurse any new or unusual skin growths such as lumps, pimples or moles that have changed.
- It is very important that you keep every appointment, especially during the clearing phase (the first 25/35 treatments). Missing appointments will decrease the effectiveness of the treatment and could end up exposing you to higher doses of light in the long run!
- Other treatments are also available for your skin condition including topical, oral and injectable medications. Dr. Becker will explain the risks and benefits of these options. The risks of NB UVB treatment include skin cancer, skin damage, freckles, wrinkles and, if you were to remove the protective goggles and look into the lights, severe eye damage including blindness.
- You need to follow up 4-6 weekly while on the light treatment to check for progress, and at least yearly after finishing the therapy to check for skin cancers.
- NB UVB is not a cure for your skin condition, but a treatment that hopefully will cause improvement in your skin problem. You may not get any better, and/or possibly worse, with this treatment; successful treatment, either written or implied, is not guaranteed.
Interested In UVB With Us?
For appointments or general enquiries, speak with our friendly reception staff who will be glad to assist however they are able:
Phone: (02) 6651 7000
Fax: (02) 6651 7010
Address: Suite 214/ Specialist Medical Centre,
343 Pacific Hwy, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450
The Australasian College of Dermatologists recognises the dedication and professional service of its Fellows and their commitment to excellence in dermatology.