Phototherapy uses ultraviolet (UV) light to treat some of the more severe types of eczema. It is believed to work by altering the body's immune response. Although UV light is effective for eczema, it can also cause long-term side effects similar to those caused by too much sun (since the sun also gives off UV light).
Like excess sun exposure and tanning beds, phototherapy can cause long-term skin damage. The main long-term side effects of phototherapy are skin cancer and photoaging of skin. Photoaging is the premature aging of skin caused by exposure to UV light (through tanning beds, the sun, or phototherapy). Photoaging causes skin thinning, sagging, wrinkling and "liver spots."
If you are concerned about your risk of skin cancer or photoaging, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can suggest ways to minimize your risk, such as making sure that all unaffected areas are protected from UV light during treatment, selecting a different method of phototherapy, or using the minimum amount of phototherapy needed for successful treatment.
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