PUVA Therapy (Photochemotherapy)

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Psoriasis Pictures Slideshow: See Moderate to Severe Forms of this Common Skin Condition

What are PUVA light therapy side effects?

PUVA has a definite potential to cause skin cancer, including melanomas. The risk of developing skin cancer is directly related to the amount of energy administered. It is well known to cause photo-aging that is unavoidable. If not appropriately monitored, PUVA can produce severe ultraviolet light burns. Occasionally, Oxsoralen can cause nausea so susceptible patients take the drug with food.

How effective is PUVA therapy?

PUVA is a safe and effective treatment for psoriasis. Recently, a newer treatment has supplanted it to some extent, utilizing a different wavelength of light called "narrow band UVB." Although a visit to a physician's office is still necessary to administer the light, it is not necessary to take a drug by mouth. Both types of treatments are similar in their effectiveness.

Where can people find more information on PUVA?

National Psoriasis Foundation
https://www.psoriasis.org/

REFERENCES:

Almutawa, Fahad, Naif Alnomair, Yun Wang, Iltefat Hamzavi, and Henry W. Lim. "Systemic Review of UV-Based Therapy for Psoriasis." American Journal of Clinical Dermatology Apr. 10, 2013: 1-26.

Hönigsmann, H. "Phototherapy for Psoriasis." Clinical and Experimental Dermatology 26 (2001): 343-350. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2230.2001.00828.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/9/2015

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