Phototherapy for Scalp Psoriasis: A Comprehensive Guide

The Benefits of Phototherapy for Scalp Psoriasis

Understanding Phototherapy for Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune skin condition that affects the scalp, leading to the formation of scaly patches and redness. It can cause discomfort, itchiness, and embarrassment for those dealing with this condition. While there are several treatment options available, one effective and widely used method is phototherapy.

How Phototherapy  Works

Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, involves the controlled exposure of the scalp to ultraviolet (UV) light. This treatment helps to slow down the excessive growth of skin cells and decrease inflammation, resulting in a reduction of symptoms for individuals with scalp psoriasis.

There are two main types of phototherapy used for scalp psoriasis:

Narrowband UVB Therapy

Narrowband UVB therapy is the most commonly used form of phototherapy for scalp psoriasis. The treatment involves exposing the scalp to a specific wavelength of UVB light, which has been proven to effectively manage the symptoms of psoriasis. It is safe and well-tolerated, making it suitable for long-term use.

Puva Therapy

Puva therapy combines exposure to a specific wavelength of UVA light with a medication called psoralen. This medication makes the skin more sensitive to light, enhancing the effects of UVA exposure. While Puva therapy can be effective, it may carry a higher risk of side effects and is usually considered when other treatment options have not been successful.

Both types of phototherapy require multiple sessions, usually two to three times a week, to achieve optimal results. Treatments are typically administered in a dermatologist’s office or specialized clinic under professional supervision.

Understanding the Phototherapy for Scalp Psoriasis Process

Preparation for Phototherapy

Before beginning phototherapy, it is essential to have a thorough examination and consultation with a dermatologist. They will assess your specific condition, overall health, and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

During this consultation, it is crucial to inform your dermatologist about any medications you are taking, as certain drugs can increase photosensitivity and affect the effectiveness of phototherapy.

Phototherapy for Scalp Psoriasis Treatment Sessions

Each phototherapy session typically lasts a few minutes, with the initial exposure time gradually increasing over subsequent visits. The number of treatments required varies depending on the severity of the scalp psoriasis and how your skin responds to the therapy.

During the session, you will be given protective eyewear to shield your eyes from the UV light. A trained professional will administer the treatment, carefully targeting the affected areas of your scalp.

Possible Side Effects

While phototherapy is generally safe, there are some potential side effects to consider:

Temporary Skin Redness

After each treatment session, you may experience temporary redness on your scalp, which typically subsides within a few hours.

Mild Sunburn

In some cases, phototherapy can cause mild sunburn-like symptoms such as skin tenderness and increased itching. These symptoms usually fade within a day or two.

Skin Dryness

During the course of treatment, your scalp may become dry. Regular moisturization can help alleviate this symptom.

Potential Long-term Risks

While the risk is low, long-term use of phototherapy may slightly increase the risk of developing skin cancer. However, the benefits of effective psoriasis management often outweigh this risk. Regular skin checks and following the recommended treatment duration can help minimize any potential harm.

It is crucial to communicate any concerns or side effects to your dermatologist for proper guidance and support.

Is Phototherapy Right for Me?

Phototherapy is a highly effective treatment option for many individuals with scalp psoriasis. However, it may not be suitable for everyone. Factors such as skin type, medical history, and lifestyle need to be considered before determining if phototherapy is the right course of action.

A dermatologist is best equipped to evaluate your unique condition and provide personalized advice on whether phototherapy is an appropriate treatment option for you.

Can I Combine Phototherapy with Other Treatments?

In some cases, combining phototherapy with other treatment modalities can enhance the overall effectiveness of scalp psoriasis management. Your dermatologist will be able to advise on the best combination treatment approach tailored to your specific needs.

Are the Results of Phototherapy Permanent?

Phototherapy can provide significant relief from scalp psoriasis symptoms. However, it is essential to remember that psoriasis is a chronic condition, and there is currently no known permanent cure. Consistency and ongoing treatment are crucial for long-term management.

How Soon Can I Expect to See Results?

The time it takes to see improvements can vary from individual to individual. Some people may notice a significant decrease in symptoms after a few weeks, while others may take longer to respond to treatment. Consistency and patience are key during the phototherapy process.

Can I Do Phototherapy at Home?

While there are home phototherapy options available, it is highly recommended to undergo treatment in a supervised medical setting. Dermatologists and medical professionals can customize treatment plans based on your specific needs and closely monitor your progress, ensuring optimal results and minimal risks.

Does Insurance Cover Phototherapy?

Many insurance providers cover the cost of phototherapy for scalp psoriasis. However, coverage may vary depending on your specific insurance plan. It is advisable to contact your insurance company to determine the extent of coverage and any potential out-of-pocket expenses.

Can I Use Phototherapy During Pregnancy?

Phototherapy is generally considered safe during pregnancy, especially when using narrowband UVB therapy. It is crucial to consult with a dermatologist and obstetrician to assess individual circumstances and weigh the potential benefits against any risks.


Phototherapy is a valuable treatment option for individuals dealing with scalp psoriasis. Its targeted UV light exposure can significantly reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. However, it is essential to consult with a dermatologist to determine if phototherapy is the right choice for you.

Remember, while phototherapy can provide relief, it is essential to maintain a comprehensive approach to managing scalp psoriasis. Regular visits to your dermatologist, a well-balanced diet, and appropriate lifestyle modifications can work synergistically with phototherapy to help keep symptoms at bay.

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