PUVA therapy combines a medicine (called a psoralen) and
treatment with ultraviolet A (UVA) light. The psoralen increases the skin's
sensitivity to UV light, including sunlight. The psoralen is taken either as a
pill or by putting it on the skin directly. Then the skin is exposed to UVA.
Treatments are done regularly for 4 to 6 months.
PUVA is used when
alopecia areata affects most of the scalp or areas of skin other than the
scalp. It may also be used when other treatments cannot be used or have not
Short-term side effects when using PUVA to treat psoriasis
Skin redness, headache,
Nausea from the medicine.
Psoralens applied to the skin (topical) may help you avoid
some side effects of PUVA. Topical psoralens may be used for alopecia areata
that affects smaller areas of the skin. They may be especially helpful when
psoralens taken by mouth (oral) cause severe nausea.
psoralens, such as those given in bath water, are as effective as oral
psoralens. But if light treatments are given in a doctor's office, they may be
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Ellen K. Roh, MD - Dermatology