Blog & News

Seeing the light

Stewart S

Psoriasis Advance. 2018;16(2):20-25.

This article published in the summer edition of Psoriasis Advance delves into patient testimonies about their struggles with psoriasis. Melissa Leeolou, age 26, who was diagnosed with psoriasis when she was just one year old. The past 25 years have not been an easy battle for Leeolou and her parents, the article states. Through many failed treatment attempts and limited treatment options because of her age, hope for a cure was quickly diminishing. That was until a trip to the Israeli desert provided in an unexpected result. The point of the trip was to visit the Dead Sea with hopes that the mineral rich water would provide healing, or at least some relief. Instead, sunlight worked as a healing agent for Leeolou’s aggressive psoriasis.

While many patients worry about the effects of too much sun exposure, these fears can be put at ease with the use of prescription phototherapy. Providing “medically supervised exposure to UV light – which provides the benefits of sunbathing while minimizing its risks – can serve as a powerful tool in the treatment of psoriasis.” Doctor Joel Gelfand, M.D., a major proponent for phototherapy has found that the patients who undergo the proper treatment regimens of light therapy typically experience great results. He goes on to say that “light therapy is considered to be the safest way to treat psoriasis because you’re treating from the outside in.”

Conversely, biologic alternatives require intensive monitoring for side effects and increase patients’ risk of infection. The combination of phototherapy’s low risk safety profile, and the dangers associated with other forms of therapy make phototherapy “the most commonly favored first-line intervention for healthy adults.”

Nancy Renner shared about her scalp psoriasis and the emotional sacrifice she had to make in order to receive treatment. She had always had long hair, until the psoriasis plaques on her scalp started to make her hair fall out. Renner had also noticed improvements in the plaques on affected areas of her body after going on a sunny vacation. When her dermatologist recommended phototherapy, she was pleased to find that “after just 10 days and a few light treatments, her wounded scalp had healed of all lesions.”

Clearly, phototherapy can provide positive results and treat psoriasis with very few associated risks. However, there are limitations that come with clinical-based treatments, such as distance to and from the clinic, office hours, and missed time at work or school. To combat those restrictions, home phototherapy is growing in popularity as an option that provides the same results as treatments in a doctor’s office yet reduces the amount of time spent traveling to the doctor, the cost of co-pays for each appointment, and offers patients more convenience and flexibility in treatment schedules. Each patient case is unique, but “it’s great to have phototherapy as a first-line intervention.”