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Psoralen plus ultraviolet light therapy (PUVA) combines a type of medicine (psoralen) with ultraviolet A (UVA) light to treat atopic dermatitis. The psoralen makes the skin more sensitive to the ultraviolet light. PUVA can be an effective treatment for severe atopic dermatitis.
An example of a psoralen is methoxsalen (Oxsoralen).
A psoralen medicine is taken 1½ to 2 hours before exposure to UVA light. This treatment is repeated 2 to 3 times a week, and treatment length varies. The dose of medicine is not increased, but the amount of light can be increased.
During photochemotherapy, you stand in a booth that contains light tubes that give off UV light. Goggles should be worn to protect your eyes during treatment. Men need to shield their genitals to avoid an increased risk of genital cancer.
As your skin recovers from treatment, it should be checked frequently (at least once or twice a year) for signs of damage or skin cancer.
PUVA is usually only used for adults who have severe and hard-to-treat cases of atopic dermatitis. It typically is not recommended for children.
Risks related to PUVA treatment include:
Because of the side effects, PUVA is not generally recommended for children unless all other treatment fails to control severe atopic dermatitis.
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