Information for the public

Treatment using phototherapy

Treatment using phototherapy

Phototherapy uses ultraviolet (UV) light to treat psoriasis. It can be used alone or with drugs called psoralens, which make the skin more sensitive to light (as also known as PUVA). Phototherapy should be used periodically and it is not suitable for long-term use to control your psoriasis.

Your healthcare professional should offer you phototherapy if you have psoriasis that cannot be controlled with topical treatment alone. Treatment is usually given 3 or 2 times a week.

You may be offered topical treatment as well as phototherapy if:

  • you have plaques that do not respond to phototherapy, are on parts of the body that are difficult to treat or are covered with hair and need treatment (such as flexures and the scalp) or

  • you are not able or do not want to take systemic drugs.

Phototherapy and risk of skin cancer

Exposure to UV light during phototherapy can increase your risk of skin cancer so your treatment should be carefully monitored.

Some people are at especially high risk of skin cancers (for example, people with xeroderma pigmentosum or familial melanoma or who have already received a lot of phototherapy). If you have one of these conditions, phototherapy is not likely to be suitable for you.

When considering PUVA treatment, your healthcare professional should first discuss with you:

  • other possible treatment options

  • the risks of skin cancer, explaining that the risk increases with the number of treatments.

  • Information Standard