Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Phototherapy for Atopic Dermatitis
Phototherapy is the supervised use of ultraviolet (UV) light to treat skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis. Ultraviolet B (UVB), ultraviolet A (UVA), or a combination of UVB and UVA may be used during therapy.
During phototherapy, you stand in a booth that contains light tubes that give off UV light. Goggles should be worn to protect your eyes during treatment. Men need to shield their genitals to avoid an increased risk of genital cancer.
As your skin recovers from treatment, it should be checked frequently (at least once or twice a year) for signs of skin damage or skin cancer.
Phototherapy may be used for mild, moderate, or severe cases of atopic dermatitis in adults. It is used only for severe symptoms in children.
Phototherapy with ultraviolet (UV) light can be an effective treatment for severe atopic dermatitis. Combined UVA and UVB light have a more beneficial effect than UVA or UVB light alone.
UV light may help prevent bacterial infections, which are a particular problem in people with atopic dermatitis.
Risks related to phototherapy include:
UVA produces fewer and milder short-term side effects than equal doses of UVB light.
Treatments are usually given 2 times a week. UVB treatment requires little time (from seconds to minutes). UVA treatment is more time-consuming (typically 20 minutes for a treatment).
A similar type of treatment, psoralen plus ultraviolet light therapy (PUVA), combines a type of medicine (psoralen) with ultraviolet A (UVA) light to treat atopic dermatitis. The psoralen makes the skin more sensitive to the ultraviolet light. This therapy has additional risks but it makes the UVA light more effective.
Current as of: April 1, 2019
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family MedicineMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineEllen K. Roh, MD - Dermatology
Current as of:
April 1, 2019
Medical Review:Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Ellen K. Roh, MD - Dermatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2019 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.