Psoralen plus ultraviolet light therapy
(PUVA) combines a type of medicine (psoralen) with
ultraviolet A (UVA) light to treat atopic dermatitis.
The psoralen makes the skin more sensitive to the ultraviolet light. PUVA can
be an effective treatment for severe
An example of a psoralen is methoxsalen (Oxsoralen).
psoralen medicine is taken 1½ to 2 hours before exposure to UVA light. This
treatment is repeated 2 to 3 times a week, and treatment length varies. The
dose of medicine is not increased, but the amount of light can be
During photochemotherapy, you stand in a booth that
contains light tubes that give off UV light. Goggles should be worn to protect
your eyes during treatment. Men need to shield their genitals to avoid an
increased risk of genital cancer.
What To Expect After Treatment
As your skin recovers from treatment,
it should be checked frequently (at least once or twice a year) for signs of
damage or skin cancer.
Why It Is Done
PUVA is usually only used for adults
who have severe and hard-to-treat cases of atopic dermatitis. It typically is not
recommended for children.
How Well It Works
PUVA is effective in managing
hard-to-treat atopic dermatitis.
Risks related to PUVA treatment include:
Skin cancer and cancer. Exposure to UV light
may result in skin cancer. The male genitals are highly susceptible to the
cancer-causing effects of UV therapy.
Skin damage. Exposure to UV
light may lead to sunburn and skin damage.
Cataracts. The risk of cataracts can be reduced by
regular use of sunglasses that block UV light when you are outdoors.
Other skin diseases getting worse.
What To Think About
Because of the side effects, PUVA
is not generally recommended for children unless all other treatment fails to
control severe atopic dermatitis.