The Skin & Cancer Foundation established the first UV light therapy unit for the treatment of extensive psoriasis, and severe eczema in the 1980's. Since then, over 20,000 patients have been treated at our clinics at both Darlinghurst and Westmead. The Foundation has equipment which can deliver whichever treatment the specialist prescribes. All treatment follows strict protocols and is administered by dermatology nurses under the supervision of the prescribing doctor.
What is Narrowband UVB (NBUVB) Treatment? NBUVB phototherapy is a light treatment for patients with a variety of skin disease. The most common conditions treated are Psoriasis, Atopic Eczema and Vitiligo. Many other skin disorders are treated with NBUVB.
Treatment – How does it work? We don’t know exactly how it works but it turns off the changes in the skin’s immune system that lead to the development of Psoriasis and Eczema.
Treatment schedule You will require to come three times a week. It is only effective if attendance is regular. If you have any work commitments or holidays which will interfere with attendance it is better to defer starting treatment. If during a course of treatment you are unable to attend please notify the staff so that someone else may use the time.
How long will I come for? It is difficult to know how many treatments will be needed. Most people require 20-25 visits. If after 30 treatments your Psoriasis or Eczema has not responded satisfactorily, this course of treatment will be stopped and your doctor will reassess your treatment program.
What happens each treatment?
- Unless discussed with your dermatologist your face will not be treated. Shield your face with tightly woven pillowslip and eyes with 100% UV protective eye wear. Please wear your own maximum UV protection eye wear under the pillowslip.
- Patients must protect the genital area by wearing underpants. If you have active Psoriasis or Eczema on your buttocks, wear a G-string/Jock-strap or a sock for male patient. Make sure that you wear the same clothing each time.
- Sometimes other areas of skin may be protected from exposure by wearing tightly woven clothing. It must cover the same area every visit.
- Apply moisturiser to entire skin at home before coming for treatment. It increases the effectiveness of the treatment.
When will I see signs of improvement? Improvement is gradual, visible signs are usually evident by week three or after approximately ten treatments. Usually you notice the lesions become less scaly and start to become thinner. Symptoms of itchiness improve. Treatment continues until there is no activity and all that remains are darker or lighter areas of skin where the Psoriasis was. Unfortunately it is not usual to have 100% clearance.
Are there any side effects? Yes, you may experience some side effects during the treatment. These include:
1. Burning – usually this is mild. If more severe, we will adjust the dose. Do not go to the beach or use a solarium while being treated – severe burning may develop.
2. Development of a rash brought on by exposure to UVB (rare)
3. Precipitation of a cold sore. (If you are susceptible and the area where they occur is exposed to the UVB). Protect the area where cold sores with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide containing sunscreens.
4. Some people find their skin becomes drier during treatment. Moisturising the skin regularly and reducing the use of soap in the shower reduces this dryness.
5. When the Psoriasis or Eczema gets better there is often a darkening of the skin where the problem was. The darkening is temporary but may take some weeks or months to go away.
Long term side effects:
- Premature ageing of the skin with wrinkling, dilated capillaries, dryness, pigmentary changes and loss of elasticity.
- NBUVB can contribute or add to an individual’s overall lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. This includes sunspots, non melanoma skin cancer (Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinomas) and perhaps Melanoma.
- There may be a greater risk of developing Melanoma but we do not have any data at this time.
- Regular attendance for treatment is important to get the best results. If you miss too many appointments the phototherapy nurse will stop your treatment and ask you to see your dermatologist to discuss other treatment alternatives. Further phototherapy may be scheduled when you are able to attend regularly.
Hours of opening and contacts: Monday, Wednesday and Friday 0740am – 1800pm Direct Telephone: (02) 8833 3060 Switchboard Telephone: (02) 8833 3000 We request that you make appointment at least two to four weeks in advance DO NOT ARRIVE WITHOUT AN APPOINTMENT Please always be punctual for your appointment so as not to inconvenience other patients. If you are going to be late or need to cancel your appointment please phone the nurses direct line (02) 8833 3060
How much will it cost? There is an fee that must be paid that will cover the first 20 treatments. If treatment continues after this time, you will need to pay another fee to cover further treatments.
Monitoring treatment You will need to see your dermatologist four to six weeks after commencing therapy. This appointment is required to be made as soon as you start phototherapy. At this time, your Dermatologist will decide when to review you again and when to stop treatment. Treatment cannot continue unless you are under your dermatologist’s supervision.
How long will I remain clear? We have no way knowing how long your condition will remain improved. Some people will be clear for 12-18 months; others will relapse in three months.