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Narrow Band UVB

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Narrow band UVB is a form of photo therapy for vitiligo, eczema and psoriasis sufferers. Besides these, there are many other skin challenges that benefit by using narrow band uvb therapy. The therapy became available in USA in the mid 1990s. Read further to gain insight into what narrow band uvb treatment is all about. Check out why more and more psoriasis, vitiligo, dermatitis, mycosis fugoides patients prefer narrow band uvb home unit and proceed with narrow band uvb light therapy.


Phototherapy facts

Phototherapy involves exposing individual's skin(the whole body or the afflicted area) to measured doses of specific, artificial light in order to treat medical problems. The artificial light used in phototherapy is a man-made source of ultraviolet light generated by fluorescent lamps, LEDs or lasers and broken down to three ranges - A, B and C or referred to as UVA, UVB and UVC bands. The bands vary in terms of the level of penetration with different amounts of energy sufficient enough to both treat and/or burn the skin. Artificial light sources allow much more accurate UVB dosing than using natural sunlight.


A range: Wavelength in the range of ~320-400 nm. (Least energetic, can generate tanning effect.)



B range: Wavelength in the range of ~290-320 nm (Most energetic, can result in sunburns)



C range: Wavelength in the range of ~100-250 nm (lethal to living things).


Earlier, broadband UVB therapy was used for treatment. The PUVA system based on UVA was seen to have many side effects on patients. Narrow band UVB units work on emitting light on short-range wavelengths. This typically results in minimal sun burning of the skin. But it has not been established whether repeated use over a number of years would increase the risk of skin cancer.


UVB when carefully administered is effective in the treatment of psoriasis. UVC has no therapeutic use but is used in a variety of air and water purification and sterilization systems. UVC bulbs are used in restaurants, operating rooms and even laboratories.


Narrow band uvb

A subset of UVB is narrow band uvb. Narrow band UVB has a wavelength of 311-312 nanometer effective enough to treat many skin diseases. UVB narrow band sometimes is called UVB 311.Narrow band UVB phototherapy is ultra violet therapy.


  • Narrow band UVB is considered to be safe for use by adults and children.

  • Light or dark skin, narrow band uvb treatment is suitable for both skin types.

  • The narrow range of UVB wavelength can reach more specific areas, even skin folds.

  • The success rate is 8/10 which implies that 8 out of 10 patients benefit from narrow band uvb treatment.

  • Side effects such as sunburns and cataracts are due to carelessness or not taking sufficient precautions.

  • Narrow band UVB is often used to treat conditions like psoriasis, vitiligo and eczema.

  • Certain types of dermatitis, prurigo, porphyria, pruritis and a form of cancer called CTCL also respond well to narrow band uvb treatment.

  • When compared with traditional broadband UVB, the results obtained are far more effective.

Narrow band UVB Light Therapy

It doesn't hurt, it doesn't require hospitalization, it doesn't require administering anesthesia, the entire course time is short and every session takes only few seconds or few minutes. Narrow band uvb therapy is done in hospitals, dermatologist's office and physiotherapy clinics.


Narrow band UVB therapy, though a recent introduction is gaining wider acceptance mainly because it involves a simple procedure and results are highly satisfactory. Narrow band UVB treatment in most of the cases is done in conjunction with other treatments such as prescribed medications taken orally or topical application of ointments. The doctor or health care provider may recommend narrow band UVB when ointments, creams and oral medications haven't been successful in treating the existing skin condition.


For best results, patients who are recommended narrow band UVB therapy should adhere to prescribed schedule. It is mostly two to five times weekly and a full course of therapy is 12 weeks. However, depending on factors such as patient's skin type, age, skin condition and the area of body to be treated, the duration of therapy will be determined. Visible changes on the skin are usually noticeable after 5-10 sessions. The average schedule is 15-25 sessions, by which time the skin will be clear. Post completion of therapy, maintenance sessions are continued.


Take a look at the procedures related to narrow band uvb therapy.


  • The session begins with the health care provider enquiring about any other prevailing health conditions and medications taken.

  • The risks as well as benefits associated with narrow band uvb therapy will be explained, and consent obtained.

  • Specially trained nurses are in-charge of actually administering the therapy under the supervision of doctor.

  • On the day of treatment, the patient will be discouraged from using deodorants, perfumes, after shave lotions or any other cosmetic product.

  • The patient will be required to remove clothes from areas that need treatment.

  • Other areas that do not require treatment should be covered or sun screens need to be applied in order to reduce the exposure to neighboring areas.

  • Men should cover their genitals and women ought to apply sunscreen to their nipples and areola, unless these are areas to be treated.

  • The patient will be placed in a specially designed cabinet containing fluorescent light tubes.

  • The patient will be made to stand in the center of the cabinet.

  • Protective goggles or special glasses will be given to the patient to safeguard the eyes.

  • Initially, the involved area of the body will be exposed to UVB for a few seconds or few minutes.

  • The machine will be turned on and calculated dose of narrow band UVB will be given.

  • The doctor will monitor and determine required amount of UV light.

  • Having determined the condition of skin, the date and time of commencement of therapy will be discussed.

  • After each session, the reaction will be measured. The skin may appear pale or turn slightly pink.

  • Narrow band UVB dosing may be increased in terms of exposure time, depending on response of the patient.

  • The patient will feel warm during the treatment sans any pain.

  • Scheduled sessions will continue till the skin is clear.

  • The doctor will check after each therapy if the patient is experiencing any discomfort.

  • Antihistamine medications to reduce allergic reactions and other medications to ease itching or any kind of discomfort will be prescribed.

  • Maintenance therapy will be required to keep the skin condition under control.

Narrow band UVB Treatment

Psoriasis:It shows up in the form of dry, inflamed, red, scaly patches of skin, a result of rapidly multiplying skin cells. It may not be possible for the affected individual to get rid of psoriasis but can definitely help avoid it. Narrow band UVB is an effective treatment for those with severe or extensive psoriasis, especially when application of topical medicines is not effective. Narrow band UVB clears psoriasis faster and produces longer remissions.


Vitiligo: Vitiligo is characterized by loss of pigment in patches of the body believed to be an auto immune disorder, a process in which the body destroys its own pigment. Rapid repigmentation is possible by opting for narrow band uvb treatment.


Dermatitis: Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis.It is characterized by chronic inflammation of the outer layers of the skin. It is associated with itching, irritation and sometimes lesions on the skin. It can affect any part of the body. Seborrheic dermatitis affects the scalp and is characterized by flaking skin condition. Dermatitis is most common in infants and children. Though it is difficult to prevent it, opting for narrow band uvb treatment helps control it.


Mycosis fugoides: Is a type of lymphoma confined to the skin. There are close to 30 types of lymphoma and treatment depends on the type and severity of the condition. Treatment is usually a combination of chemotherapy with radiation therapy, though chemotherapy only may be an option in some cases.


Itching pruritis: Pruritis is termed as a desire to scratch due to the presence of skin disease or the result of systemic cause. Narrow band UVB has been effective in treating and containing pruritis.


Polymorphous light eruption: It is a rash that occurs as a result of sensitivity to sunlight (photosensitivity). Those who are sensitive to sunlight are most likely to experience an itchy red rash particularly after being in the sun, usually in the spring or early summer months. Eruptions appear in exposed areas usually after 30 minutes to several hours after exposure. Narrow band UVB treatment is effective in treating and preventing polymorphous light eruptions.


Narrow band uvb home unit

Narrow band uvb home unit is economical, the owner enjoys privacy. It is comfortable as it involves no commuting, no waiting, no keeping up with doctor's appointments and no interruptions or interference in work schedule, and above all it is absolutely safe and effective. One can do it when it is convenient. These are the advantages of having a narrow band home unit.


After confirmation with respect to administering of narrow band UV light therapy, a prescription from the doctor/licensed physician need to be obtained in order to purchase a narrow band UVB home unit. When buying a narrow band uvb home unit, it is important to check if the equipment is covered by health insurance plans.


Narrow band uvb home unit is a viable option for continuous and maintenance therapy. Recent studies have proved that narrow band uvb home therapy was found to be very effective in comparison with hospital therapy. It is absolutely safe when patients adhere to appropriate guidelines, teaching and follow-ups. Moreover, patients who are skeptical about missing therapy in hospitals due to some reasons will find it easier to do at home. There is indeed sufficient data which proves that a cautious, dedicated and continuous narrow band uvb treatment at home guarantee regaining better, clear skin in just couple of weeks.

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