Phototherapy Treatment for Skin Conditions

How we harness the power of the sun to treat some skin disease.

Research shows sunlight can benefit some skin conditions. Doctors can now capture the healing properties of sunlight through artificial ultraviolet light.

Our dermatology team uses phototherapy to treat complex skin diseases such as:

What types of phototherapy are available?

Laser light technologies, fluorescent lamps, and full-spectrum bright lights can deliver phototherapy. The therapy may involve ultraviolet-A rays (UVA) or ultraviolet-B rays (UVB). These specialized light rays may be used in different wave forms and in combination with medicines to enhance the skin disease treatments.

  • Broadband or narrow-band UVB: Your doctor may deliver UVB in broadband light waves (three to four treatments per week) or narrow-band light waves (two to three treatments per week). Your dermatologist will determine your treatment schedule.
  • High-intensity UVB: A special laser called the Excimer delivers high-intensity UVB to individual lesions on the skin. This helps heal the lesion and spare the normal surrounding skin exposure to the UVB light. High-intensity UVB therapy requires two to three treatments a week.
  • PUVA: PUVA phototherapy uses the drug psoralen in combination with UVA light. You first take psoralen by mouth, as a skin ointment, or as a skin bath to make your skin more sensitive to the UVA light before the therapy. You may need up to 25 PUVA treatments over several months to achieve the best results for a serious, chronic skin disease such as psoriasis.

What should I do after phototherapy treatment?

As you recover, follow these recommendations:

  • Apply cool compresses for about 15 minutes every hour for the first six to 12 hours to prevent swelling.
  • Avoid excessive physical activity for two weeks after your procedure.
  • Avoid saunas, baths, or swimming pools for two weeks.
  • Avoid flying or car rides longer than 45 minutes for two weeks.
  • Drink plenty of water for the first few days.
  • Don’t peel, pick, scrape, or scratch the skin.
  • Keep the skin clean. Wash the area gently using a mild soap. Avoid using abrasives, exfoliating sponges or exfoliating masks on the treated areas.
  • Keep the treated area elevated for a few days.
  • Use analgesics such as Tylenol, Advil, or aspirin to control mild, lingering pain. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication for more severe pain.
  • Walk five to 10 minutes every hour while awake for the first few days to prevent a blood clot.
  • Wear compression stockings during the day for the first two weeks for best results.

Contact a nurse if you develop:

  • A temperature of 100 degrees or greater
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Possible infection
Take the next step
Let us help you schedule an appointment.

Schedule Appointment Online

If this is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department.

For your safety, please select a MyChart video visit on demand or call our MyCare Advice Line at 844-262-1949 before scheduling if:

  • You currently have a temperature greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • In the past 21 days, you have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • In the past 14 days, you have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • You are experiencing a new loss of taste and/or sense of smell
  • If you have experienced two or more of the following symptoms in the last 3 days:
    • fever
    • chills
    • drenching sweats
    • new cough
    • shortness of breath
    • body aches
    • headache
    • sore throat
    • runny nose or nasal congestion
    • nausea/vomiting/diarrhea

Henry Ford Health System is committed to ensuring our Deaf or hard-of-hearing patients and visitors have equal access to all services. We provide the appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, TTYs and other assistive listening devices, at no cost. To request assistance, call 313-916-1896 or email

Schedule Appointment for