A male figure receiving a light treatment for his psoriasis.

The Hospital Treatment: Psoriasis & Light Therapy

One of the most frustrating parts of living with psoriasis can be when treatment options fail. This means they either don’t work or the condition comes back months, weeks or even days after stopping it.

Indeed, with some treatments, you can experience a rebound where the condition not only comes back but can come back worse than before.

In the UK, you won’t generally be offered UVB light therapy at a hospital until you’ve tried a few different over-the-counter medications. This means you may have to wait sometime before you’re offered it.

Light therapy & psoriasis

I had my first UVB light treatment at the hospital when I was 17. I found the process of it fine. I would arrive at the hospital after scheduling a timeslot, sit down and wait to be called. Then I would put on a robe and get ready for the treatment in a private booth.

With UVB light therapy at a hospital, the ones I’ve had, are large units that contain 20 or so lightbulbs. There is a different option called UVA therapy but I’ve not tried that.

After getting into my robe, I wait until a nurse called me to the room. Going in, you start at a very low dose. I started at 30 seconds and which increases at each visit with an additional 10 seconds. Sometimes the nurses even bumped it by 12 seconds. Nonetheless, make sure you are approved for this therapy and it is monitored by health officials to avoid burning or any other nasty side effects.

What to expect with light therapy

The machine itself lights up as you are in it. You have to make sure each part of your body with psoriasis is exposed to the light. You can cover any area that the psoriasis is not affecting. The time itself goes quite quickly and the nurses are always on hand to make sure it is working as it should be.

This treatment for me took about 30 sessions, and it stopped when my skin was clear. For me, it worked. I was shocked. For the first time in around 3 years, I had clear skin. No psoriasis. No lesions. Nothing.

But, 3 months later and the psoriasis was back. It not only affected my stomach and legs, but began spreading to my face, scalp, and arms. I went from being just 30 to 40 percent covered to around 60 to 70 percent. I don’t think a rebound could happen so fast, but it made me very unhappy and downbeat. My doctor prescribed me more medication to try and combat the flare.

Are multiple light therapy treatments needed?

I had a second round of light treatment when I was 21. By this time, many other treatment options, including both oral and over-the-counter, had failed. Once again, I scheduled my appointment with the hospital. I sat down and waited to be called, and the treatment itself would rise in increments as it went on.

What happened? Yes, you guessed it – my skin cleared. The 30 or so sessions were successful and my skin felt great. No psoriasis patches. No lesions. Again, nothing. The timeframe for psoriasis returning was longer this time when I stopped and the UVB light therapy was, to some degree, a lot more successful. But for me, it’s never really kept psoriasis at bay.

Advice for psoriasis and light therapy

My advice, therefore, is to give light therapy treatment a go if it's advised by your dermatologist or doctor. Like any new approach, keep an open mind. Don’t stop using your ointments and creams as they will continue to help keep your psoriasis at bay and will be needed when you eventually stop light treatment.

But hey! It may be successful for you and you may experience complete clearance with no symptoms returning. Who knows!

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