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Auckland DHB Dermatology Service

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Phototherapy Treatment with UVA

Ultraviolet radiation (UV) provided by artificial light has been used with good results for a long time. It is a recognised treatment ordered by a doctor for numerous skin conditions.

PUVA stands for Psoralen and Ultraviolet Light, Type A. It involves the combined use of a prescription psoralen medication called Oxsoralen and long wave ultraviolet light (UVA). Oxsoralen is taken two (2) hours before PUVA treatment WITH FOOD. If you feel nauseated after taking Oxsoralen, change to taking half the dose two (2) hours before treatment then the other half 30 minutes later, e.g. take ½ dose at 10am then the other half at 10.30am.  An anti-nausea tablet can be prescribed if necessary.

Pregnancy must be avoided.

Treatments: All treatments are supervised and given in a cabinet you stand up in. The cabinet contains vertical fluorescent bulbs.

Men: Unless the genitals are being treated we recommend men protect this area. Use a jock strap, clean sock or something similar during treatment.

Eyes: Wear wrap around UVA blocking sunglasses the whole 24 hour day of taking Oxsoralen except when asleep. You also need to wear goggles to protect your eyes while you are in the cabinet.

Jewellery: Rings, necklaces and watches must be removed during treatment to prevent sunburn to these areas.

Hair: Avoid radical changes of hairstyle while you are being treated to avoid burning.

Face: Always apply a 30+ SPF Broad Spectrum sunscreen (unless your face requires treatment) 30 minutes before treatment.

Avoid the sun: Do not sunbathe for 24 hours before treatment or 48 hours after treatment. Do not go into direct sunlight and avoid sunlight through glass or on a cloudy day for 8 hours after taking Oxsoralen. Wear appropriate clothing and apply sunscreen.

Creams and Ointments: Continue with topical creams and ointments as prescribed. Use plenty of moisturiser often.

Treatment: At the beginning of treatment you will be in the cabinet for a short time, about 1-2 minutes. Time in the cabinet will be adjusted gradually and could reach 12-15 minutes. Depending on the doctor’s instructions and how your skin responds, treatment will be twice a week for 6 to 8 weeks. You will have a follow-up clinic appointment with your skin doctor shortly after this last treatment time.

Possible side effects:

Burning of your skin  }
Itchy skin                 } use moisturiser
Skin dryness            }

What will my skin look like after each treatment? Your skin may look mildly red later in the day of treatment. If you have uncomfortable sunburned or itchy skin, tell the phototherapy technician at the next treatment time. The time in the cabinet will be adjusted to avoid this.

Appointment times: IMPORTANT. You must always arrive on time for your treatment. The time will be the same for each treatment. There are many people having the same treatment as you each day and they are affected if you are late. If you frequently do not come and do not contact us, your treatment will be stopped.

This page was last updated at 9:15AM on December 20, 2019.