Phototherapy uses lightwaves to treat certain skin conditions. The skin is exposed to an ultraviolet (UV) light for a set amount of time. Phototherapy uses a man-made source of UV light. UV light also comes from the sun. When combined with a medication called psoralen, the procedure is known as psoralen UVA (PUVA).

UV light shuts down immune system cells in the skin. It can help in skin conditions that are caused by an overreaction of the immune system. Skin conditions that are treated with phototherapy include:

  • Psoriasis —a skin disorder that causes red, silvery, scaly patches on the skin
  • Atopic dermatitis —eczema, an itchy, red skin condition, or dermatitis due to allergies
  • Mycosis fungoides—a type of lymphoma confined to the skin
  • Vitiligo —a skin disorder where normal skin pigment is lost due to destruction of pigment-producing cells by the immune system

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