Beyond topicals, the next treatment in line for many types of eczema is clinical or in-home UVB-Narrowband (UVB-NB) phototherapy, which within weeks of slowly building up treatment times can provide significant remission. Low-dose maintenance treatments can then be used to control the condition indefinitely and drug-free with practically no side effects. Plus there is the immense benefit of making large amounts of Vitamin D naturally in the skin, carried away by the skin’s tiny blood vessels for health benefits throughout the body.
In practice, UVB-Narrowband light therapy works well in professional phototherapy clinics (of which there are about 1000 in the USA, and 100 publicly funded in Canada), and equally well in the patient’s home4,5. There are many medical studies on the subject – search for “Narrowband UVB” on the US Government’s respected PubMed website and you will find more than 400 entries!
In-home UVB-Narrowband phototherapy is effective because, although the devices used are typically smaller and have fewer bulbs than those at the clinic, the devices still use the exact same part numbers of the important Philips UVB-Narrowband bulbs, so the only real difference is somewhat longer treatment times to achieve the same dose and the same results.
An in-home phototherapy session typically begins with a bath or shower (which washes away some loose UVB-blocking dead skin, and removes foreign material that might cause an adverse reaction), followed immediately by the UVB light treatment, and then, as necessary, the application of any topical creams or moisturizers. During treatment the patient must always wear the UV protective goggles supplied and, unless affected, males should cover both their penis and scrotum using a sock.
For eczema, UVB-Narrowband treatments are typically 2 to 3 times per week; never on consecutive days. The maximum dose is that which results in slight skin pinkness up to a day after the treatment. If this does not occur, the time setting for the next treatment two or three days later is increased by a small amount, and with each successful treatment the patient builds tolerance to the UV light and the skin begins to heal. In-home UVB-NB treatment times per skin area range from well under a minute for the first treatment, to several minutes after a few weeks or months of diligent use. Significant clearing can often be achieved in 4 to 12 weeks, after which the treatment times and frequency can be reduced and the eczema maintained indefinitely, even for decades.
Compared to taking UVB-Narrowband treatments in a clinic, in-home treatments have many advantages, including:
Time and travel savings
Greater availability (fewer missed treatments)
Lose-dose maintenance treatments after clearing is achieved, instead of being discharged by the clinic and letting the eczema flare-up again
The potential side effects of UVB phototherapy are the same as with natural sunlight: sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer. Sunburn is dosage dependent and controlled by the device’s built-in timer used in conjunction with the eczema treatment protocol in the SolRx User’s Manual. Premature skin aging and skin cancer are theoretical long-term risks, but when only UVB light is used and UVA excluded, many decades of use and several medical studies7have shown these to be of only minor concern. UVB phototherapy is safe for kids & pregnant women8, and can be used together with most other eczema treatments.
Solarc Systems’ product line is made up of four SolRx “device families” of different sizes developed over the last 25 years by real phototherapy patients. Today’s devices are almost always supplied as “UVB-Narrowband” (UVB-NB) using different sizes of Philips 311 nm /01 fluorescent lamps, which for home phototherapy will typically last 5 to 10 years and often longer. For the treatment of some specific eczema types, most SolRx devices can alternatively be fitted with bulbs for special UV wavebands: UVB-Broadband, UVA bulbs for PUVA, and UVA-1.