What is phototherapy?Phototherapy is a medical treatment that uses artificial light such as white light or UV light.
Phototherapy can also be described as laser treatment, which has been successful in recent years in many medical fields such as ophthalmology, cosmetic treatments, surgery and cancer therapy.
Within Balneo phototherapy, for example, baths containing a brine that makes the body skin more sensitive to light, supplemented by a UV light irradiation. Heliotherapy is treated with natural sunlight. Professional phototherapy, for example, is carried out with infrared light for heat treatment of rheumatic complaints as well as chronic inflammations (for example sinuses).
With a white light therapy, inter alia, winter depression and sleep disorders are treated. Special UV radiation is used in skin diseases such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and acne. Phototherapy with blue light has been proven in newborns with jaundice.
Function, effect & goals
Understandably, phototherapy, with its different light variations on the respective body, has a very different effect. In particular, the infrared light promotes the warming effect and thereby increases blood circulation. It also has a pain-relieving as well as muscle relaxing.
In contrast, the UV light mainly convinces with its mode of action on the individual skin cells. Such phototherapy can provide the needed peace of mind to the immune system within the upper layers of the skin. Especially in allergic complaints / diseases such as eczema phototherapy plays an extremely important role, as it calms the overactive immune system.
Furthermore, with targeted phototherapy by UV light irradiation can also significantly alleviate inflammatory skin diseases. Thus, a treatment for psoriasis growth-inhibiting, so that increased desquamation and new formation of skin cells is stopped.
Again, the blue light of phototherapy is used in paediatrics for newborns with jaundice. The yellowish skin coloration is an accumulation of breakdown products of hemoglobin (red blood pigment). This can be excreted only in minor amounts by means of the kidney.
With the aid of blue phototherapy, this dye breaks down into components that are readily soluble and thus released into the urine. Further different special applications are made possible with the help of the UV radiation, for example a treatment of the blood which takes place outside of the respective body.
Phototherapy with bright, white light resembling sunlight is especially used in sleep disorder therapies. This type of phototherapy is usually referred to as light therapy. Sleep disorders are mainly caused by the shift of the individual bio-rhythm (such as shift work). However, if there is an irradiation in front of a light shower (fluorescent screen) at regular intervals, the organism can return to its original day / night rhythm by means of phototherapy. The reason for this is the lack of daylight / sunlight, which causes important hormones and messengers such as serotonin and melatonin to lose their imbalance.
The sunlight contains, for example, about 3 to 7 percent ultraviolet radiation, whereby the UV spectrum can be broken down into UVA and UVB light by wavelength. For example, the UVB component is responsible for sunburn and is therefore filtered out in conventional solariums. The intensity of a phototherapy is normally 2, 000 lux or even more. For example, normal interior lighting is about 500 lux, and during the summer daylight is about 10, 000 lux.
Risks & Dangers
Possible risks or side effects of phototherapy usually only occur for a short time. These are complaints such as headaches or skin irritation. Since the eyes can be affected more severely in some forms of phototherapy, phototherapy should not be used if individual eye diseases exist.
Each type of phototherapy may only be carried out under the supervision of a doctor, as, for example, ultraviolet irradiation has only a very limited effect. If phototherapy is overdosed, severe skin damage may occur.