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PUVA Therapy (cont.)


What Are Risks and Side Effects Associated With PUVA Therapy?

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 manifest as excessive lentigines with atrophy (poikiloderma) is likely to occur in the areas treated. Although rare, serious burns are possible because of inadvertent over dosage of UVA. Patients must limit their environmental exposure to sunlight for 24 hours after taking psoralens.

What Diseases and Conditions Does PUVA Therapy Treat?

There are a number of diseases where PUVA is of proven benefit, including psoriasis (but not psoriatic arthritis), 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.


Farahnik, Benjamin, et al. "The Patient's Guide to Psoriasis Treatment. Part 2: PUVA Phototherapy." Dermatol Ther July 29, 2016.

Ling, T.C., et al. "British Association of Dermatologists and British Photodermatology Group guidelines for the safe and effective use of psoralen–ultraviolet A therapy 2015." British Journal of Dermatology 174 (2016): 24–55.

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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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