Phototherapy at Alaska Family Dermatology

What is Phototherapy?


Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is a medical treatment used to treat a variety of skin conditions. It involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet (UV) light waves under the controlled supervision of a dermatologist. Treatments are typically done in a dermatologist’s office using specialized light units that emit specific wavelengths of UV light. Phototherapy requires regular sessions over a set period to achieve optimal results.

How Does Phototherapy Work?

Depending on the specific skin condition and the type of phototherapy used, the UV light can work in several ways:

  • Suppressing inflammation: UV light can help reduce inflammation in the skin, which is a key factor in conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
  • Slowing skin cell growth: In psoriasis, phototherapy can help slow down the rapid turnover of skin cells that leads to thick, scaly patches.
  • Modulating the immune system: Some forms of phototherapy may help regulate the immune system, which can be beneficial in certain skin conditions.
  • Promoting repigmentation: In vitiligo, where pigment cells are lost, phototherapy can stimulate the remaining pigment cells to produce more melanin, potentially restoring skin color.

Benefits of Phototherapy:

  • Effective treatment: Phototherapy is a proven and effective treatment for various skin conditions, often showing significant improvement in symptoms.
  • Relatively safe: When administered under the supervision of a dermatologist, phototherapy is generally safe.
  • Minimal side effects: Most side effects associated with phototherapy are mild and temporary, such as sunburn or tanning of the treated area.
  • Non-invasive: Phototherapy is a non-invasive treatment, meaning it does not involve breaking the skin.
  • Outpatient procedure: Phototherapy treatments are typically performed in a dermatologist’s office and do not require hospitalization.

Conditions Treated with Phototherapy:

  • Psoriasis: Phototherapy is a first-line treatment for many types of psoriasis, helping to reduce inflammation, scaling, and itching.
  • Eczema: Phototherapy can be helpful in treating moderate to severe eczema, particularly when topical medications haven’t been effective.
  • Vitiligo: Certain types of phototherapy can stimulate pigment production in the skin, potentially restoring some or all of the lost color.
  • Itchy skin (pruritus): Ultraviolet light therapy can help alleviate itching associated with various skin conditions.
  • Lichen planus: Phototherapy may be used to treat lichen planus, an inflammatory autoimmune disease that causes itchy, purple bumps on the skin.

Phototherapy is a valuable tool here at Alaska Family Dermatology for treating various skin conditions. If you are struggling with a skin condition that might benefit from phototherapy, schedule an appointment with us today!