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PUVA Therapy (cont.)


PUVA Therapy Risks and Side Effects

PUVA can potentially cause skin cancer, just as does natural ultraviolet light. In addition, because of the intensity and duration over which it may be given, patients are at greater risk to develop squamous cell skin cancers and melanomas in treated skin than would otherwise be the case. In addition, excessive aging of the skin and a mottled sort of pigmented appearance (poikiloderma) is likely to occur in the areas treated. Although rare, serious burns are possible because of inadvertent overdosage of UVA. Patient's must limit their environmental exposure to sunlight for 24 hours after taking psoralens.

PUVA Therapy Indications

There are a number of diseases where PUVA is of proven benefit, including psoriasis, mycosis fungoides (cutaneous T-cell lymphoma), graft versus host disease, and vitiligo. Occasionally, PUVA is also used to treat atopic dermatitis, chronic itching, and certain types of photodermatitis.


Stern, Robert S. "Psoralen and Ultraviolet A Light Therapy for Psoriasis." The New England Journal of Medicine 357.7 Aug. 16, 2007: 682-90.

Totonchy, Mariam B., Melvin W. Chiu. "UV-Based Therapy." Dermatol Clin 32 (2014): 399-413.

Last Editorial Review: 7/9/2014

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