Narrowband UVB (nUVB) is simply using light to treat inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. In a sense, it is an “organic” treatment because it does not require any topical or systemic medications. nUVB is ultraviolet B light in the 311-312 nm wavelength. This wavelength improves effectiveness while limiting collateral skin damage. People with atopic dermatitis/eczema or psoriasis may experience symptoms ranging from itching to rashes anywhere on the body, scalp, palms or soles. Fortunately, most cases are mild and are treated with proper skin care and the judicious use of topical medications. Some cases are very severe and may require oral or injectable medications to help symptoms. nUVB is a perfect way to bridge the gap for patients with more severe disease who do not want to be treated with shots and pills.
What is involved in nUVB?
Hendersonville Dermatology has a “light box”, which is a walk-in/stand up booth with 24 nUVB bulbs. We also have a specialized sit-down unit for treating the palms and soles. Treatments are administered three days weekly for one to two months. Patients apply an emollient prior to treatment to improve light transmission to the skin. Initially, each treatment lasts from 20-30 seconds and exposure time is gradually increased to seven or eight minutes. After the skin has cleared, treatments may be continued once every week or two for maintenance. This is not a cosmetic treatment and it is covered by insurance.
Are there risks?
The primary risks to nUVB are “sunburning” and the potential problems associated with UV exposure over time. Patients are provided protective eyewear and uninvolved areas such as the face are protected too. Finally, people taking photo-sensitizing medications, or who have photo-sensitivity diseases, are not candidates for nUVB.
nUVB is an effective treatment for atopic dermatitis and psoriasis that bridges the gab between topical skin care regimens and complex, potentially risky systemic medications. It is especially useful for patients with severe skin disease and other medical issues who are poor candidates for more medications.