"I want to inquire about a phototherapy machine for my mother in law who suffers from psoriasis..." I got this email one week ago. As time goes by, more people wonder if light therapy (also known as phototherapy) works for some chronic skin conditions like Psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that involves a rapid turnover of skin cells. People with psoriasis often find rough, scaly areas of painful irritation and plaques on various parts of their bodies.
There’s no cure for this autoimmune disease, but there are some treatments that can help ease psoriasis symptoms. These include home remedies to calm the skin, topical and oral medications, and light therapy.
Red Light Therapy ( RLT )
RLT is a form of light therapy that uses light emitting diodes (LED) to treat conditions from acne to persistent wounds. Some psoriasis patients undergo light therapy with ultraviolet (UV) rays, but RLT doesn’t contain any UV rays. In the hospital setting, when RLT is combined with certain medication, it may be referred to as photodynamic therapy.
There are various consumer products on the market aimed at cosmetic applications. Many tanning salons, like B-Tan Tanning in parts of Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, offer red light beds. These salons claim that these red light beds help with:
5. Fine Lines
6. Stretch Marks
For more targeted red light therapy, I think you’ll need to see a dermatologist first.
Red Light Therapy for Psoriasis
A 2011 study in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology examined the efficacy of red light therapy versus blue light therapy for individuals with psoriasis. Participants had high dose treatments three times per week for four consecutive weeks while applying a 10 percent salicylic acid solution to plaques.
What were the results? Both the red and blue light therapies were effective in treating psoriasis. The difference between the two wasn’t significant for scaling and induration. However, the blue light therapy did come ahead when treating erythema.
It’s important to remember that these treatments were done with high doses in a medical setting. The results may vary greatly if the therapy is performed at home or a salon or wellness center.
Red Light Therapy for Medical Conditions
Through grants and clinical trials in the years since the initial research, red light therapy has proven effective for some medical conditions, including:
5. Aging spots
6. Sun Damage
Red Light Therapy can even be used to help activate certain drugs that fight cancer. Some cancer drugs are sensitive to light. When the treated cells are exposed to certain types of light, such as red light, they die off. This therapy has been particularly helpful for treating esophageal cancer, lung cancer, and skin diseases like actinic keratosis.
Red light therapy isn’t associated with any major risks. Still, you may need to speak with your doctor if you’re taking medications that increase your skin’s photosensitivity.
Checking with Your Doctor
There’s no cure for psoriasis. However, you may find relief from your symptoms if you use the right mix of treatments. Light therapy is just another tool to add to your kit for finding relief. Of course, before trying anything new, it’s best to check with your doctor.
Though you can purchase red light devices for home use or arrange for therapy sessions outside of a medical setting, your doctor may have certain guidelines that will make your treatment more effective.
You may want to ask which type of light therapywould most help your unique symptoms. Your doctor may also have suggestions for how to combine oral or topical medications with light therapy, as well as what lifestyle changes will help you avoid psoriasis triggers.
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