For anyone who has suffered with Psoriasis, it can be a long and frustrating process and one which can affect every part of a sufferer’s life.
Many dermatologists recommend phototherapy (light therapy) as part of treatment for psoriasis as the exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) light can slow the growth of skin cells and clear large areas of psoriasis for up to one year.
The UVB light can be delivered by natural sunshine but many patients look for an alternative source either due to embarrassment of sunbathing in public or because of the unpredictable availability of sunlight in the U.K.
Other options are specialist laser which are costly and not every dermatology clinic has high-powered lasers. So, many people can’t access clinical phototherapy because of cost, distance, or other inconvenience issues
This has meant that although not an entirely perfect substitute for clinical lasers, sunbeds can be a low cost and effective treatment and in some cases a better alternative than long term use of medication. Psoralens should not be used with tanning beds as it may result in severe sunburn. Always consult your Doctor first.
In contrast to phototherapy in a medical setting, tanning beds are more affordable and have more convenient opening hours. However you need to ensure the tanning beds provides both UVB and UVA light (like the kind we have at Bodilight) and control your exposure to suit your skin. Psoriasis can affect previously injured skin and the damage caused by sunburn can worsen psoriasis so it’s essential you approach the use of sunbeds for psoriasis with care and moderation.
It is important to note that The National Psoriasis Foundation does not recommend the use of indoor tanning beds as a substitute for phototherapy carried out with a prescription and under the supervision of a dermatologist.
Also be aware that unlike dermatologist-prescribed phototherapy, which is targeted to the area with psoriasis, a tanning bed will expose your whole body to UV Light.
If a sunbeds are the only way you can access much needed light therapy, ask your dermatologist for his or her insights on how best to use them and whether you’re taking any oral psoriasis treatment that make your skin more sensitive to light, which could lead to sunburn or other side effects.
Here are some tips for using our beds safely and effectively:
1. Create a strict routine: Use the same bed, at that same tanning spa as this will increase the chance that you get a similar dose with each exposure.
2. Determine your starting dose. Your psoriasis will flare if you burn. This is especially important if you are taking ant medication which makes the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet light. Try to go every other day, increasing the amount of exposure gradually with each visit
3. Use mineral oil or suitable creams: White scales on the surface of psoriasis reflects light. Mineral oil or prescription ointment can ease that effect. Make sure you use it every time you use a sunbed.
4. Stop when psoriasis is under control. You are tanning to minimize the plaques not get bronzed!
5. Check with your Doctor/ Dermatologist and ensure any medication will not cause increased sensitivity to light.
6. Do skin checks. And consult your dermatologist. They are best advised to advise you on your condition.
Sunbeds can be an effective treatment for psoriasis for many sufferers but is by no means a perfect solution. Care and moderation is advised as well as regular check-ups with your dermatologist. If in doubt, seek medical advice.