Ultraviolet phototherapy for cutaneous diseases: a concise review

Oral Dis. 2016 May;22(4):253-9. doi: 10.1111/odi.12366. Epub 2015 Oct 13.


Phototherapy is the use of non-ionizing radiation, primarily in the ultraviolet spectrum, to treat disease. In dermatology, ultraviolet (UV) phototherapy remains an established, lower cost, and often preferred option for many common skin conditions, despite the introduction of newer potent biologics. This article introduces a principal therapeutic modality in the treatment of psoriasis, atopic dermatitis (eczema), vitiligo, and morphea among other diseases where oral manifestations may be present, providing basic information about the use of UVA, UVB, and PUVA. Practical considerations and side effects of phototherapy are described. Phototherapy is an effective treatment for many illnesses and carries a relatively benign side-effect profile.

Keywords: PUVA; UV therapy; atopic dermatitis; phototherapy; psoriasis; vitiligo.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Mycosis Fungoides / drug therapy
  • Mycosis Fungoides / radiotherapy
  • PUVA Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy
  • Psoriasis / radiotherapy
  • Scleroderma, Localized / radiotherapy
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / radiotherapy
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Skin Diseases / radiotherapy*
  • Ultraviolet Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Vitiligo / drug therapy
  • Vitiligo / radiotherapy