PUVA is the acronym for Psoralen + ultraviolet light A. PUVA is a type of phototherapy used in treatment of psoriasis and other skin conditions. Treatment requires the patient to ingest a light-sensitizing medication called psoralen before being exposed to UVA rays. This treatment slows down the excessive cell growth of psoriasis and clear symptoms for a time.
Who gets it?
It’s recommended for adults with moderate to severe cases of psoriasis. PUVA is not normally given to children or teenagers but may if other treatments haven’t worked. Some people are not good candidates for PUVA due to their medical histories.
Does it work?
It’s effective in 85-90% of psoriasis patients, and remission is often long lasting.
What happens during a treatment?
A psoralen pill is taken. The patient waits while the psoralen takes effect. After the optimal time has elasped, so that the skin is at its most light sensitive, the patient is put under ultraviolet lights. The amount of time under the UVA lights depends on skin type and increases with the number of PUVA treatments a patient has had. On average 25 treatments are required to initially clear the skin, and one or two treatments a month afterwards may be necessary to maintain skin clearance.
What are the side effects?
- Psoralen can cause nausea, headaches, and dizziness. It can also cause itching and redness of the skin.
- The more PUVA treatments, the higher the risk of developing skin cancer, particularly squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas. This means it’s important for patients who have had 150 or more PUVA treatments to get yearly skin exams for the early detection and treatment of any skin cancer that develops.
Call us at (509) 735-1100 today to make an appointment with one of our medical providers to see if PUVA or one of the other psoriasis treatments is right for you.