(NaturalNews) Ultraviolet (UV) treatment of psoriasis is just as safe when carried out at home as when performed in a clinic, according to a study conducted by researchers from Utrecht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and published in the British Medical Journal.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease in which scaly red patches form on the skin. Because UV radiation is known to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation, UVA and UVB rays are commonly used to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis. The treatment lasts eight to ten weeks, however, with three visits per week. Because the treatment must currently be performed at a hospital, this can impose a significant burden on some patients.
Researchers compared the effects of UVB therapy on 200 psoriasis patients who were treated either at a hospital or with a home UVB phototherapy unit. They found that there was no significant difference between the two types of treatment in safety or effectiveness, and that patients who received treatment at home reported higher levels of satisfaction and perceived the treatment as less of a burden than those treated at a hospital.
"We knew a lot of dermatologists are not convinced of the safety and effectiveness of UVB phototherapy but our theory was they should be equally safe," said lead researcher Mayke Koek. "One of the most important findings was a lot of patients treated at home were more satisfied."
Alex Anstey of Royal Gwent Hospital in Wales said that limiting UV treatments to hospital settings restricts medical care to those who live near big hospitals.
"In my area there are very large numbers of people who don't have access to phototherapy," he said, "which is a shame as it's a very effective and safe treatment."
A UVB treatment bed costs between £5,000 and £10,000 ($8,000-$16,000), which Anstey noted is cheaper than many biological therapies currently on the market as psoriasis treatments. He also suggested that hospitals could lend out the beds for the course of a patient's treatment.