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UV treatment for severe psoriasis, eczema, reduces medication needs

Routine prescription of narrow-band ultraviolet (UV) light therapy for severe psoriasis and eczema could reduce the need for oral and topical medications and improve outcomes, researchers report online in PLOS One (Aug. 3, 2017).

Investigators from the University of Dundee in Scotland examined the outcomes of 1,800 patients with severe psoriasis who received UV treatment over a six-year period. Of those patients, three-quarters experienced significant improvements in their condition. As well, the team found that the need for steroid creams was reduced by 25% in the same period.

“Physicians have been using phototherapy or even direct sunlight to treat skin conditions for 50 years,” said the paper’s lead author Dr. John Foerster in a press release. “We know that it helps patients with psoriasis and eczema but until now we did not know that it actually causes a reduction in the use of steroid creams and can reduce the need for patients to have their conditions controlled by tablets or injections. These can work very well but can also have a downside.”

Dr. Foerster is a Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine.

Access to phototherapy in the U.K. is inconsistent, according to the release. Dr. Foerster said that while there are many reasons for this, providing or extending access to this treatment would benefit many patients.

“[Oral] treatments can be effective and safe with proper monitoring but it would be fantastic if everyone had the opportunity to try something that circumvents the need for any laboratory monitoring in the first place,” said Dr. Foerster.

“There are other risks resulting from a lack of access to phototherapy. Sufferers of psoriasis or eczema may take matters into their own hands and seek out a sun-filled holiday or use sun beds. I have seen this on several occasions and it brings with it the many well-known dangers arising from skin exposure [to UV light].”

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