Psoriasis & Light Therapy

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Whether you’re young, old, or Kim Kardashian, psoriasis has no boundaries—and we’re not joking. Psoriasis affects 125 million people worldwide—2 to 3 percent of the total population. While we know psoriasis as scaly and inflamed skin, there’s more to this skin condition that affects millions of people. 

Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition where unlike a typical body creating new skin cells once a month, with psoriasis, the body creates new skin cells in a few days. With psoriasis, the body’s immune system is in overdrive, unable to shed skin cells as quickly as they’re produced. This results in the skin cells piling up, creating itchy, scaly, and inflamed skin. 

Of course, there's a percentage of people who get psoriasis from their genetics; however, many external factors can cause this skin condition, and we're still learning more about it. Risk factors include stress, skin injuries, viral and bacterial infections, alcohol, tobacco, obesity, and medications. 

Up until now, psoriasis treatment has been mainly pharmaceutical-based. Most psoriasis treatment focuses on preventing skin cells from growing quickly and to remove the build-up of scales. Aside from topical treatments, steroid creams are commonly used to treat mild to moderate psoriasis by reducing inflammation. 

But using steroid creams isn't without consequence. When steroid creams are continuously used for more than two to four weeks, side effects can occur, including topical steroid withdrawal syndrome. This syndrome appears when steroid creams are overused. It can result in burning, stinging, and bright red skin. In addition, long-term use of steroid creams may create local skin atrophy depending on where it's applied to the body. 

However, if you're looking for a non-pharmaceutical approach to treating psoriasis, whether it's for your dermatology clinic or personal at-home use, light therapy could be the answer.

Light therapy is a non-invasive, non-irritating, and non-pharmaceutical skincare treatment option for skin conditions, including psoriasis. 

So what does light therapy do for psoriasis? Does red light therapy really help with inflammation? Through light therapy, this treatment can:

  • Slow down rapidly growing skin cells
  • Reduce or eliminate itchiness
  • Reduce inflammation and allow the skin to heal
  • Suppress an overly active immune system

More importantly, different forms of light therapy can effectively treat:

  • Small areas with thick plaque psoriasis
  • Palmoplantar psoriasis (on hands and feet)
  • Plaque psoriasis covering large areas of skin
  • Scalp psoriasis
  • Nail psoriasis

To achieve the health benefits of LED light therapy, this is how it works. When used, the light penetrates through the skin, reaching the cellular level. By changing the skin cells, it reduces cytokines that are responsible for inducing psoriasis. 

“Not only does UVB have a tremendous anti-inflammatory effect, it also promotes regulatory T-cells (which suppress autoimmune reactions) and reduces itching,” says Matthew Lewis, MD, a rheumatologic dermatologist at Stanford Health Care in California.

The exposure to light stimulates vitamin D production which is a key factor in treating psoriasis. “We know vitamin D is hugely important for regulating cell differentiation, but there are clearly factors in UVB light that benefit psoriasis above and beyond any effect of vitamin D,” Dr. Lewis explains. 

This information is supported by both U.S. and Canadian psoriasis experts who reviewed literature from early 2008 to late 2017, focusing on light-based therapies. What was concluded was that light therapy was determined to be safe and effective for long-term use.

If you're looking for non-invasive, non-pharmaceutical psoriasis treatment, a light therapy device is what you want, whether it's for personal use or clinical use. If you're a skincare practitioner or dermatologist, consider private labeling your own light therapy device to best serve your clients' needs and get them the results they need.