Phototherapy with ultraviolet A or B light waves, or a combination of both, may be used to treat older children or adolescents with mild or moderate atopic dermatitis; it is not suitable for infants or younger children.
Some patients who do not respond to ultraviolet light alone benefit from a combination of phototherapy and an oral medication known as psoralen, which makes the skin more sensitive to the light.
Doctors combine UVB treatments with topical medications to treat some patients and sometimes prescribe home phototherapy, in which the parent administers the UVB treatments.
Potential side effects of phototherapy used for elevated bilirubin levels, include watery diarrhea, increased water loss, skin rash, and transient bronzing of the skin.
Discontinuation of home phototherapy is safe once the total serum bilirubin level has decreased to less than 15 mg/dL in healthy full-term infants older than four days.
Some newborns are placed under special lamps (phototherapy) to help correct the jaundice caused by elevated bilirubin levels and to bring down the bilirubin level.
Multiple factors can influence the effectiveness of phototherapy, including the type and intensity of the light and the extent of skin surface exposure.
Since phototherapy acts by altering the bilirubin that is deposited in the tissue, the area of the skin exposed to phototherapy should be maximized.
Infants receiving home phototherapy need daily visits by a nurse, who performs a physical examination and measures the total serum bilirubin level.
It should be considered if the total serum bilirubin level is approaching 20 mg/dL and continues to rise despite intense in-hospital phototherapy.