Sun Lamp for Acne
Phototherapy is a physical procedure for skin acne using a sunlamp to target the primary causative factor in acne skin lesions, propionibacterium acnes, also known as p. acnes. The effectiveness of sunlamp use in treating p. acnes has not yet been proved, though phototherapy is often used by dermatologists in treating moderate to severe acne. Other variations of this therapy include direct sun and tanning beds, both of which promote direct exposure to dangerous ultra-violet (UV) light rays.
Though phototherapy for skin acne is controversial, it is in fact, also used for a variety of severe cases of skin diseases that have not responded to other medical treatments, including rickets, psoriasis, vitiligo, lupus and eczema, often with positive results. Because of the risks associated with UVA and UVB light exposure, the pros and cons of sunlamp treatment for moderate to severe skin acne, as with other skin conditions, must be carefully weighed.
There are three primary sources of UV light for sunlamps used to treat skin acne. They include halogen light, fluorescent light and incandescent light. This physical procedure, administered in a medical office under the supervision of a board-certified dermatologist, may be adapted to include natural sunlight. Special training is needed for administration of phototherapy to prevent adverse side effects of UV exposure to light.
Short term risks of sunlamp therapy for skin acne include damage to eyes, drying and even burning of the skin, and subsequent rupture of acne pustules, thereby increasing the risk of staphylococcal or streptococcal skin infection. According to the World Health Organization, it is important to carefully follow established guidelines for UV exposure. That is, to "limit casual sun exposure to 5 to 15 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week."
Long-term risks of sunlamp phototherapy can leave skin dried and burned, and promote bacterial skin infection. Exposure to UV light rays over time may be responsible for premature aging, with decreased elasticity and associated wrinkles, lines and sagging skin. Most importantly, long-term UV exposure is known to increase the risk of melanoma and other types of skin cancer.
UV light is beneficial in that it stimulates vitamin D, vitally important in musculoskeletal development and immune system function. Phototherapy has been known to be very helpful in the treatment of moderate to severe acne, particularly when used in combination with other skin treatment modalities. However, the risks and benefits of UV exposure must be weighed carefully to ensure patient safety in the treatment of skin acne.
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