Get to Know Pso!

Home-based phototherapy

Thanks to Suzanne from Gatineau, Quebec for her question
UV Phototherapy machines

This is a question CPN gets regularly because phototherapy, though an effective treatment for many people with psoriasis (Pso), can be difficult to access, especially depending on where in Canada you live. Buying a home-based phototherapy device is a solution for some people but deciding what product to buy takes some consideration depending on your personal situation. It’s helpful to understand what phototherapy is and how it treats psoriasis as a start.


What is phototherapy?

Phototherapy is a common form of treatment that involves repeated exposure of the skin to specific ranges of UV radiation. Narrowband-UVB, which releases a narrower range of UV wavelengths, is the most common form of phototherapy treatment used, though there are two other types: PUVA in which psoralen (a drug taken orally or applied topically to the skin) is used to sensitize the skin to UVA radiation; and broadband UVB (which emits a broader range of UV wavelengths). In psoriasis, phototherapy works by slowing down the growth of skin cells.

Home-based phototherapy

Although phototherapy is generally offered in a doctor’s office or clinic, the number of clinics across Canada are limited and sessions may require attending appointments several times a week. Many people may consider purchasing phototherapy units that they can use at home.

Some private benefit plans reimburse the costs of home phototherapy units, though public plans generally don’t. It’s best to check what coverage you have if you’re considering a home phototherapy unit before you buy it so that you know if you’re able to seek reimbursement for the costs. Also keep in mind that phototherapy equipment is currently listed as an allowable Medical Expense Tax Credit under the Income Tax Act.

If you’re considering purchasing a home-based phototherapy unit, your dermatologist can help determine which type of home phototherapy may be most appropriate for your psoriasis and life situation.
It’s also important to discuss with your dermatologist any potential sensitivities that you may have related to your medical history, including your medications and other products that you use on your skin. Home-based phototherapy will also usually require dermatologist monitoring.

Though everyone is different and may find different devices more beneficial than others, some things to consider when determining what home phototherapy unit may be right for you include:

  • On what part(s) of your body do you have psoriasis?
  • What device(s) may be most appropriate for your needs?
  • Are you able to maintain a detailed treatment schedule independently?
  • Can you afford the cost of the device, bulb replacement, tax and any other related administrative costs?
Determining if home-phototherapy is right for you and what product may be the best option is definitely a treatment decision we’d recommend you review with your doctor.

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