Treating your skin condition with Narrow Band UVB Radiation

Narrowband Ultraviolet Treatment is mainly used to treat psoriasis and other skin conditions like acne, eczema, vitiligo, mycosis fungoides and polymorphic light eruption. It is often recommended if you have tried ointments and creams without success. However, it is sometimes used in combination with other treatments.

UVB treatment is most suitable for people with extensive skin problems, but may not be appropriate if you have very fair skin or if your condition becomes worse in sunlight.

Treatment is provided by specially trained physiotherapists from London BridgeHospital’s physiotherapy department.

What is Ultraviolet B radiation?

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are produced by the sun. Although they can’t be seen they are an important part of sunlight and are grouped into different wavelengths: UVA, UVB and UVC. UVA rays penetrate skin and cause it to darken or tan. UVB rays are mostly absorbed by the epidermis, which is the top layer of our skin and like UVA is responsible for tanning. UVC rays are absorbed by the Earth’s ozone layer and
do not reach us. Narrowband UVB radiation has been found to treat skin conditions that are caused by overactive immune cells in the skin, as it reduces their activity. A specific wavelength of UVB (311 to 312nm) is thought to be the most useful range for treating skin conditions. This wavelength is referred to as narrowband UVB or TLO-1. Additionally, treatment with UV is often referred to as phototherapy.

Preparing for treatment

On the day of your treatment please do not wear perfumes, deodorants, aftershave lotions or other cosmetic products, as these can make your skin more sensitive to light. Please inform our physiotherapy team if you start using any medications or creams during your treatment. We recommend using a water-based moisturiser such as Aqueous cream, E45 or Diprobase, which will help your skin to absorb the ultraviolet light. Please ask your physiotherapist if you are unsure which creams you can use. Please do not sunbathe or use a sun bed during the whole course of your treatment and take measures to reduce your exposure to the sun’s rays to minimise the risk of sunburn. Also, please inform us if any areas of your skin becomes newly exposed i.e. new haircut/waxing during the course of your
treatment.

Treatment process

Before treatment can begin, patients will undress and stand in the phototherapy unit, a cabinet containing fluorescent tubes that produce UVB rays - this is kept in a completely separate private room.
You will be provided with goggles to protect your eyes and male patients must cover their genitalia with either a jockstrap or a sock. Once the machine is switched on, you will be given a calculated dose of
narrowband UVB. You may feel a warm sensation during your treatment, but there will be no pain. Your starting dose of UVB may only be a few seconds and then gradually be built up. Please allow 30 minutes for your initial treatment and 15 minutes for follow-up appointments. Your skin condition will decide the frequency of your visits, although treatments are generally given three times a week for eight weeks. Please remember to keep your appointments and let us know if you cannot attend for any reason. If a treatment is missed, your dosage may be reduced. You will be able to book appointments in advance if you wish.

What are the risks?

Your doctor and physiotherapist will discuss with you the possible implications of UVB treatment in greater detail. It is important to note that your skin condition may flare up again. If this occurs, you may require a further course of treatment - you will need to contact your dermatologist if this is the case.

Please be aware of the following risks:

  • Your skin can become itchy and dry and could temporarily worsen
  • You may become sunburnt. We will try to avoid this, but some tanning and redness of your skin is likely. This usually developes 8-14 hours after your treatment and usually settles within 24 hours.
  • Very occasionally patients develop polymorphic light eruption, a very itchy
    rash due to sunlight.
  • As with extensive sun exposure, long term use of UVB may age your skin and increase the risk of developing skin cancer. For this reason we do not give UVB therapy between courses.
  • If you do not wear protective goggles in the unit you risk developing sore eyes. It may also increase the risk of developing eye cataracts in the future.
  • If you have rosacea or a history of cold sores which can be aggravated by the sun, we will shield your face during treatment.
  • If you decide to go ahead with this treatment you will be asked to sign a consent form.

Contact

For further information on Narrowband UVB treatment please call the Physiotherapy Department on 020 7234 2500.