SolRx UVB Home Phototherapy
for Eczema / Atopic Dermatitis
A naturally effective,
drug-free treatment for long-term relief
of acute & chronic eczema / atopic dermatitis
The ability to retain moisture has been lost.
What is Eczema?
Eczema is a general term for a group of non-contagious skin disorders that cause localized skin inflammation and irritation1. The symptoms can vary greatly between patients and may include dry, rough, red, swollen, and/or scaly skin, hives, and very often itch – sometimes severe. Eczema causes damage to the protective outer layer of skin called the stratum corneum, resulting in the skin becoming inflamed, itchy, and losing its ability to retain water.
Most types of eczema involve an immune system response and have no known cause2, but there is evidence that a compromised immune system plays an important role3,4,5. When threatened, the immune system’s white blood cells release substances that cause inflammation, burning sensations, and itchiness. With itch comes scratching, often sub-consciously at night, which worsens the condition in the so-called itch-scratch cycle resulting in sleeplessness, irritability, and ever-more patient stress. In severe cases, the skin will thicken, crack, bleed, and weep fluid; which can allow bacteria to enter and a secondary infection to develop.
What are the Treatment Options?
The treatment options for eczema depend heavily on the exact type of eczema, so it is important to consult your physician for a proper diagnosis and the recommended treatment. The advice of your physician always takes precedence over any information provided by Solarc, including this webpage.
The treatment of eczema almost always begins with simple moisturizers to help the skin barrier heal, with oatmeal baths and lotions being successfully used for many decades. To reduce itch, sometimes topical antihistamines are used. For more severe cases, topical steroid drugs or the topical calcineurin inhibitors Protopic (tacrolimus) and Elidel (pimecrolimus) may be prescribed by your doctor. Topical drugs can be effective but may result in complications such as skin atrophy (skin thinning), rosacea, irritation, and tachyphylaxis (loss of effectiveness). These topical drugs can also be rather expensive, with a single tube costing up to $200 and sometimes a tube or two required every month for extensive eczema.
Beyond topicals, the next treatment in line for many types of eczema is clinical or in-home UVB-Narrowband (UVB-NB) phototherapy, which within weeks of slowly building up treatment times can provide significant remission. Low-dose maintenance treatments can then be used to control the condition indefinitely and drug-free with practically no side effects. Plus there is the immense benefit of making large amounts of Vitamin D naturally in the skin, carried away by the skin’s tiny blood vessels for health benefits throughout the body.
In practice, UVB-Narrowband light therapy works well in professional phototherapy clinics (of which there are about 1000 in the USA, and 100 publicly funded in Canada), and equally well in the patient’s home4,5. There are many medical studies on the subject – search for “Narrowband UVB” on the US Government’s respected PubMed website and you will find more than 400 entries!
For the unlucky few that do not respond to any of the standard therapies, a systemic immunosuppressant such as methotrexate and cyclosporine may have to be used temporarily to halt the itch-scratch cycle and allow the skin to heal. These drugs are taken internally, affect the entire body, and have significant side effects including increased risk of infection, nausea, and kidney / liver damage.
Some of the Many Types of Eczema, and How They Respond to Phototherapy:
Responds well to UVB-NB Phototherapy
Atopic dermatitis is the most common type of eczema. It is hereditary, typically starts early in life, and is often associated with allergies. It responds well to UVB-Narrowband light therapy, in-home or at the clinic.
Phototherapy is not recommended
This long-term rash is associated with varicose veins. It is normally treated with topical drugs and compression stockings. Phototherapy is not recommended.
Infantile Seborrheic Eczema
Clinical phototherapy only
ISE affects infants and normally clears up within a couple of months. UV phototherapy is not recommended except for severe cases, and only under physician guidance in a phototherapy clinic.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis (ACD)
Clinical PUVA phototherapy may be considered
As the name suggests, allergic contact dermatitis is caused by an allergen contacting the skin, with the body taking an immune system response, sometimes well after the initial contact. Common allergens include nickel as found in jewelry, latex as in latex gloves, and plants such as poison ivy. The primary treatment objective is to identify and eliminate the allergen, typically by using allergic patch testing. When other treatments such as topical steroids fail, clinical PUVA phototherapy may be considered.
Discoid or Nummular Dermatitis
Responds well to UVB-NB Phototherapy
This form of eczema has been associated with staphylococcus aureus infection and appears as roundish shapes scattered on the limbs. The plaques can become very itchy and lead to further complications. UVB-Narrowband phototherapy has proven to be effective in treating discoid eczema.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
May respond to UVB-NB Phototherapy
As the name suggests, irritant contact dermatitis is caused by a chemical or physical irritant contacting the skin, but without the body taking an immune system response. Common irritants include detergents, clothing friction, and frequently wet skin. The main treatment objective is to identify and eliminate the offending agent. In many cases, the patient also has the more common atopic dermatitis type of eczema, in which case they may benefit from UVB-Narrowband phototherapy.
Adult Seborrheic Eczema / Dermatitis
Responds well to UVB-NB Phototherapy
This mild form of eczema is commonly referred to as dandruff, but it can spread beyond the scalp to other parts of the body such as the face, ears, and chest. UVB-Narrowband is a successful treatment protocol for patients who have a chronic or severe case that is not manageable using topical products6.
How Can UVB-Narrowband Phototherapy Help?
In-home UVB-Narrowband phototherapy is effective because, although the devices used are typically smaller and have fewer bulbs than those at the clinic, the devices still use the exact same part numbers of the important Philips UVB-Narrowband bulbs, so the only real difference is somewhat longer treatment times to achieve the same dose and the same results.
An in-home phototherapy session typically begins with a bath or shower (which washes away some loose UVB-blocking dead skin, and removes foreign material that might cause an adverse reaction), followed immediately by the UVB light treatment, and then, as necessary, the application of any topical creams or moisturizers. During treatment the patient must always wear the UV protective goggles supplied and, unless affected, males should cover both their penis and scrotum using a sock.
For eczema, UVB-Narrowband treatments are typically 2 to 3 times per week; never on consecutive days. The maximum dose is that which results in slight skin pinkness up to a day after the treatment. If this does not occur, the time setting for the next treatment two or three days later is increased by a small amount, and with each successful treatment the patient builds tolerance to the UV light and the skin begins to heal. In-home UVB-NB treatment times per skin area range from well under a minute for the first treatment, to several minutes after a few weeks or months of diligent use. Significant clearing can often be achieved in 4 to 12 weeks, after which the treatment times and frequency can be reduced and the eczema maintained indefinitely, even for decades.
Compared to taking UVB-Narrowband treatments in a clinic, in-home treatments have many advantages, including:
- Time and travel savings
- Greater availability (fewer missed treatments)
- Lose-dose maintenance treatments after clearing is achieved, instead of being discharged by the clinic and letting the eczema flare-up again
The potential side effects of UVB phototherapy are the same as with natural sunlight: sunburn, premature skin aging, and skin cancer. Sunburn is dosage dependent and controlled by the device’s built-in timer used in conjunction with the eczema treatment protocol in the SolRx User’s Manual. Premature skin aging and skin cancer are theoretical long-term risks, but when only UVB light is used and UVA excluded, many decades of use and several medical studies7 have shown these to be of only minor concern. UVB phototherapy is safe for kids & pregnant women8, and can be used together with most other eczema treatments.
Solarc Systems’ product line is made up of four SolRx “device families” of different sizes developed over the last 25 years by real phototherapy patients. Today’s devices are almost always supplied as “UVB-Narrowband” (UVB-NB) using different sizes of Philips 311 nm /01 fluorescent lamps, which for home phototherapy will typically last 5 to 10 years and often longer. For the treatment of some specific eczema types, most SolRx devices can alternatively be fitted with bulbs for special UV wavebands: UVB-Broadband, UVA bulbs for PUVA, and UVA-1.
To select the best SolRx device for you, please visit our Selection Guide, give us a phone call at 866‑813‑3357, or come visit our manufacturing plant and showroom at 1515 Snow Valley Road in Minesing (Springwater Township) near Barrie, Ontario; which is just a few kilometres west of Highway 400. We will do our best to help you.
It is important that you discuss with your physician / healthcare professional the best choices for you; their advice always takes priority over any guidance provided by Solarc.
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