Phototherapy for atopic dermatitis: Systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2022 May;38(3):233-240. doi: 10.1111/phpp.12741. Epub 2021 Oct 25.


Background: Phototherapies could represent an efficient option for the treatment of atopic dermatitis (AD), but the evidences available for clinical choices were contradictory.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of different phototherapies on AD.

Methods: This systematic review and network meta-analysis included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) through searching keywords from PubMed, EMBASE, and the Cochrane library. We summarized different phototherapy types and scoring systems. Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) absolute score changes were estimated by mean differences (MDs) and standard deviations (SDs) and then included in the network meta-analysis. The effect sizes of comparison of different phototherapies were presented as MDs and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Egger's test was used to evaluate publication bias.

Results: Eleven RCTs were included in the systematic review and 4 studies in the network meta-analysis. Based on the pooled estimates, medium-dose ultraviolet A1 (UVA1) cold light was superior to medium-dose UVA1 (MD 8.92; 95% CI: 5.60-12.24) but no significant difference between high-dose (UVA1) and medium-dose UVA1 cold light (MD 0.66; 95% CI: -5.57 to 6.90). Publication bias was not supported by Egger's test (P = .168).

Conclusions: Due to possible long-term adverse effects of high-dose UVA1, medium-dose UVA1 cold light appears to be the superior form for AD.

Keywords: atopic dermatitis; network meta-analysis; phototherapy; randomized controlled trial; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Phototherapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultraviolet Therapy*