What is the Cost of Phototherapy?
Phototherapy can be done in a clinic or at home, and requires multiple sessions to see results. However, depending on the condition you are treating and the number of sessions, phototherapy treatment can cost hundreds and thousands of US dollars per year.
What is Phototherapy?
Phototherapy is a medical procedure that uses light in order to treat a number of health conditions. Some of the most common ones may include dermatitis, eczema, mood and sleep disorders, psoriasis, vitiligo, and some types of cancers.
Home ultraviolet B phototherapy used on psoriasis patients, for example, costs about the same with phototherapy sessions in an outpatient setting. As both treatments are equally effective and patients express a preference for home treatment, home phototherapy should be the primary treatment option for patients who are eligible for phototherapy with ultraviolet B.
The Cost of More Severe Psoriasis
If you have moderate to severe psoriasis, rather than starting with medication, your doctor might suggest brief, daily exposure to sunlight. You might also get a prescription for phototherapy in your doctor’s office or at home with a phototherapy lamp. As with medication, light therapy can help relieve skin inflammation and slow the growth of skin cells.
Of course, the more phototherapy sessions you need, the higher your cost. Sometimes, people need 20 to 36 sessions over several weeks to get their symptoms under control. Some phototherapy sessions are priced at around $75 per session, and are not usually covered by most insurance unless it is medically necessary.
Cost of At-Home Light Therapy
Your homebased phototherapy treatment can achieve results comparable to what you would expect from a healthcare professional if you invest in a quality light therapy device.
The affordable and compact DermaHealer UVB Narrowband Lamp allows you to treat all types of psoriasis, vitiligo, eczema, and similar skin conditions in the comfort and privacy of your own home, and it only costs $189.
If you were to get in-clinic treatments at $30 per session, this device would pay for itself in just under 7 sessions.
The DermaHealer UVB Phototherapy Lamp for Psoriasis, Vitiligo, and Eczema uses original Philips™ UV-B/311nm narrowband lamps with specific wavelength of the sun's natural spectrum for the treatment of psoriasis, vitiligo, hyperbilirubinemia, and other skin diseases.
At $299, the DermaHealer Phototherapy Lamp pays for itself in just 10 sessions. If you are treating a chronic condition or need treatment for various parts of the body, this is a sensible investment. Furthermore, its precise and unique spectral energy distribution, with an emission peak at 311 nm, minimizes potential side effects like itching and redness.
What to Expect During Light Therapy
Before getting an appointment for phototherapy sessions, you need to ask your dermatologist if this treatment is right for you. They will also prescribe the kind of light to use and how many treatments you might need. Your starting dose will depend on your skin type and how easily you burn or tan.
For two weeks prior to a light therapy session, you may need to avoid retinoid and other skin care products that thin your skin. If you are on any anti-inflammatory drugs, consult your dermatologist if you should discontinue them.
Avoid tanning beds and prolonged, unprotected sun exposure in the days just before your treatment appointments.
After phototherapy, your treated skin may be pink or red. There might be some mild skin peeling from the treated area. Your skin may be more sensitive, and you might need to skip your typical skin care regimen for a few days afterward, especially exfoliates, scrubs, and topical vitamin A.
While dermatologists recommend you wear sunscreen every day, you will need to be especially vigilant with sunblock while your skin recovers.
Phototherapy rarely involves a single treatment. Several rounds of phototherapy, typically two to three treatments per week, over the course of four to six weeks, is usually recommended to start.
After that, the effects of the treatment may need to be maintained by occasional follow-up treatments every three months or so.
Narrowband Ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) Light Therapy
Narrowband ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) is the most common form of phototherapy. It can be used to treat plaque or guttate psoriasis. NB-UVB lamps and light bulbs emit wavelengths of light between 311 and 313 nanometers (nm).
NB-UVB light therapy is most effective when performed two or three times a week. An emollient such as petroleum jelly may be applied before each session.
According to a 2002 study, people who had two weekly sessions saw their symptoms clear up in an average of 88 days. Those with sessions three times a week saw their symptoms clear up in an average of 58 days.
Once the skin is clear, maintenance sessions can be performed on a weekly basis.
A 2017 study showed that around 75 percent of people receiving NB-UVB treatments found it cleared their psoriasis or led to minimal symptoms. They used fewer prescription creams for their condition, too.
NB-UVB treatments may prove more effective when combined with topical treatments like corticosteroids and vitamin D analogs.