Pediatric Dermatology Adds Phototherapy to List of Services at WCHOB

Released: 6/27/2014

Light Therapy gives new hope to WNY pediatric patients battling skin disorders


The Department of Pediatric Dermatology at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo recently expanded its list of available services to include Phototherapy, a state-of-the-art ultraviolet light therapy used to treat a variety of skin disorders. The department is already averaging 2-3 patients daily for the treatment.

“We are so happy to be able to offer this safe and effective treatment to our patients,” said Ilene L. Rothman, MD, Chief of Pediatric Dermatology, Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University at Buffalo. “For those with severe eczema and extensive psoriasis who are in need of effective therapy beyond creams and ointments, phototherapy is a wonderful alternative to strong systemic medications. Our patients are thrilled to be able to start their phototherapy with us now.”

Phototherapy comes in multiple forms, including Narrowband UVB (NbUVB), which is used at Women & Children’s Hospital. NbUVB uses a narrow range of the UV spectrum– specifically 311 to 313 nm – and is considered the safest of all the UV wavelengths. It is widely utilized as the latest and most effective type of phototherapy internationally.

Phototherapy works by suppressing some of the abnormal cellular functioning that occurs in various skin disorders, thereby helping to decrease inflammation, reduce itching and clear the skin. Treatment involves exposing the skin to an artificial Narrowband UVB light source for a set length of time two to three times a week. Patients stand inside a booth which emits a measured dose of ultraviolet light onto the skin. Protective goggles are provided, and skin which is not to be treated is covered. A moisturizing ointment is applied to the skin just prior to the light treatment to allow for better penetration of the NbUVB light. Each treatment is progressively longer until a therapeutic time has been reached. The treatment is then maintained at that level with the frequency of treatments gradually decreasing once the skin clears.

Primarily used to treat psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo, phototherapy is an alternative or adjunct to topical or systemic medication and is used for the more involved patients. Side effects from NbUVB are uncommon, but can include itching, sunburn, premature aging of the skin, and possible slight increased risk of skin cancers. However, since the unwanted light rays (including the remaining UVB spectrum and UVA spectrum) have been removed, larger treatment doses are able to be delivered to the patient, meaning quicker results and a lower chance of side effects. This form of therapy is usually better tolerated than systemic therapies and therefore is often more desirable for the pediatric population. The treatments are brief and painless. Phototherapy is not a cure for skin disorders and does not work for everyone, but it can bring about a remission of the disease process, and maintenance therapy can keep it well controlled.

For more information on phototherapy or to schedule an appointment with Pediatric Dermatology at Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, please call (716) 878-7172. All insurances are accepted.

The Department of Pediatric Dermatology at Women & Children's Hospital of Buffalo provides care for children and adolescents with all forms of congenital and acquired disorders of the skin, nails, hair and mucous membranes. This range of disorders includes conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, vitiligo, infections, hair loss, birthmarks, hemangiomas and other vascular anomalies as well as rare disorders such as epidermolysis bullosa, ectodermal dysplasia, neurofibromatosis, incontinentia pigmenti and many others.