Should Your Psoriasis Get the Light Treatment?

Patient Expert

Much of the talk regarding treatment options for psoriasis often include new medications such as pills and biologics. But, I am going to go a bit old school and highlight some of the benefits of natural light and phototherapy for psoriasis sufferers.

Despite being one of the earliest treatments for psoriasis, light therapy continues to be one of the most recommended for those with auto-immune disease. And while it works much slower than the new and improved medications, its side effects are also less severe.

Those in the psoriasis community often debate the merits of natural sunlight versus phototherapy. I have had the opportunity to try both, and unfortunately my results were minimal. But that’s not to say it won’t and doesn’t work for someone else.

So how does light therapy work?

Researchers found that light therapy helps to decrease production of cytokine, which causes inflammation and immune cells, such as skin, to spread and accumulate throughout different parts of the body. Light treatment also assists the immune system in other ways.

There are 5 different ways to administer UVA/UBA rays. These include natural sunlight, ultraviolet light b, psoralen and ultraviolet light a, laser treatments and indoor tanning. I would steer clear from indoor sun tanning since it’s not recommended for the treatment of psoriasis. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s shown to increase a person’s chance of skin cancer by 59 percent. PUVA is also rarely used due to similar risks, especially in those with lighter skin and less melanin.

But overall, studies have shown light therapy to be very effective for managing the disease and is one of the few treatments considered safe for children. It has even helped some patients go into remission for long periods of time. There’s also evidence that  those who have psoriasis and live in the south tend to show better improvement than others in the U.S. due to the extra exposure to sunlight.

Before making any decision, though, it’s best to consult a doctor.

Alisha Bridges has battled with severe psoriasis for over 20 years and is the face behind Being Me in My Own Skin, a blog which highlights her life with psoriasis. Her goals are to create empathy and compassion for those who are least understood, through transparency of self, patient advocacy, and healthcare. She is currently a post-bach student at Georgia State University pursuing a career as a Physician's Assistance—her passions are dermatology and sexual health. Alisha also shares her passion as a Social Ambassador of the Psoriasis HealthCentral Facebook page where she shares timely tips, stories and insights on living with psoriasis. You can also find Alisha on Twitter.