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UVB/TLO1 Light treatment

This page gives information about narrowband ultraviolet Narrowband UV (nUVB) light reatment. Please ask a member of staff if you have any questions.

What is Narrowband UV treatment?

nUVB is widely used by dermatologists for a number of skin disorders. The choice of UVB over the other forms of treatment depends on a range of factors including age, disease, skin type, previous treatment and current medication. The Doctor or Nurse will discuss what is best for you. Ultraviolet light is not a long-term cure but it can improve your condition significantly for a period of time.

UV therapy can only be given it you can commit to attending all the sessions within the prescribed course. If you cannot attend, UVB therapy may not be the best treatment for you. If you want more information, please ask the nurse or ring 01724 292 106 or 01482 638 571.

What is involved in nUVB light therapy?

We use nUVB at the Ironstone centre. The cabinet has panels of fluorescent tubes. We will show you the machine before you commence your treatment and discuss with you the days and times of your treatment. Treatment is usually three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) for up to ten weeks with a phototherapy nurse.


Before you get in the machine we will ask you to get undressed in the curtained off area. When you get into the cabinet the nurse will ensure that your eyes are shielded by goggles during treatment and if appropriate a face visor should also be worn to protect your face should your face not require treatment.

Initially, treatment takes only a few seconds, gradually increasing to a maximum of 4-5 minutes. The dose increase on each visit depends on your skin type, skin disorder and your response to the previous treatment.

Following treatment it is not unusual to develop a mild skin redness. Please tell the nurse at your next appointment if, a few hours after treatment, your skin felt hot, uncomfortable or your skin remains red.

Please remember there is a limit to the amount of UV therapy you can have in your lifetime. We keep records to avoid exceeding the recommended amount. Please ask the nurse or doctor if you want more information.

What you need to do during treatment

  • Dry, flaky skin can prevent UV absorption and reduce effectiveness of treatment. On treatment days please apply a water-based emollient before treatment ensuring there are 30 minutes between the application of the emollient and the appointment.
  • Avoid tar, steroid and vitamin preparations. After treatment and on non-treatment days, liberal and regular use of any moisturiser is recommended as well as your topical treatments.
  • On treatment days do not use make-up, perfumed products, aftershave or cosmetics before treatment. (you can apply them after treatment.)
  • Always inform the nurse if you are taking, or about to start, new medication or creams—these may affect your reaction to treatment.
  • Over the period of treatment do not use a sun bed or sunbathe.
  • On brighter days protect exposed areas of skin from sunlight, wear a hat, long sleeves, sunblock etc.
  • If you wear jewellery (e.g. rings) at the first treatment, wear them at every treatment thereafter; otherwise you may burn at newly exposed sites.
  • Avoid haircuts or hairstyle changes whilst having treatment. Discuss this with the nurse if this is a problem.
  • Men need to cover their genitals with dark underwear or a jock strap for every treatment. Protective clothing is essential – please do not forget!
  • Some plants, vegetables and fruits (e.g.Celery, parsnips, figs and limes), have photosensitisers in them. These make you more sensitive to UV light, so please avoid handling them for at least two hours before treatment.

Regular and punctual clinic attendance is important. To avoid inconveniencing other patients, please be on time for your appointment.
We may be unable to accommodate late arrivals. If you miss three appointments in a row without notification the treatment will be withdrawn to allow treatments for other patients. If you are unable to attend for treatment you should telephone 01724 292 106 or 01482 638 571 to let the staff know. Repeat prescriptions should be obtained from your GP throughout the course of treatments. It is your responsibility to keep yourself well stocked with the creams you require.

Short-term side effects

  1. Redness – We aim to produce a mild redness after every treatment. However, should your skin become blistered, hot or uncomfortable (e.g. like sunburn) please report this to the service reception 01724 292 106 (8.15 am-5 pm). You will need to explain that you have had ultraviolet treatment and describe your symptoms. We sometimes suspend treatment and advise you to apply creams until symptoms settle.
  2. Dry skin – Your skin may be unusually dry during treatment and for some time afterwards. Applying an emollient to the whole skin at least twice a day will help keep the skin hydrated/supple.
  3. Itching – UV therapy can cause itching particularly during the first two weeks. Emollients and antihistamine may be required to treat this.
  4. Cold Sore (Herpes Simplex virus) – Those who have had a cold sore in the past may get a repeat infection. Apply lip sunscreen to the lips before every treatment to help prevent this.
  5. Folliculitis – Small pustules and minor inflammation around the hair follicles can occur. This does not cause discomfort, and treatment can proceed. Applying moisturiser in a downward motion before treatment may help to prevent this.
  6. Phototsensitivity – If you sometimes develop a rash (e.g. prickly heat) If this happens tell the phototherapy nurse who may be able to advise you to reduce the symptoms.

Long-term side effects

  1. Photo-aging – Frequent exposure to UV may cause aging changes in the skin, such as freckles and wrinkles.
  2. Skin cancer – As with sunlight, there is a risk of skin cancer if you have a lot of UVB treatment (more than 500 treatments in your lifetime.

Test dose

Before treatment begins, we do a test of light on your back to work out your starting dose. You will be seen again about 24 hours later to read the results and treatment can start.