Phototherapy for Skin Disease

It can be frustrating when you have skin problems such as psoriasis or eczema, and standard treatments aren’t working. Dermatologists at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) give you more options for healing with phototherapy. This treatment uses light waves to help people achieve lasting relief.

What is phototherapy (light therapy)?

Phototherapy, which is also called light therapy, exposes your skin to waves of ultraviolet light using a special lamp. The light waves trigger biologic processes that help clear up skin problems.

Phototherapy may sound similar to using a tanning bed, but it’s entirely different:

  • Tanning beds expose your entire body to ultraviolet A (UVA) light waves that can damage your skin. Many skin problems do not respond to UVA light, which would also prevent you from getting relief.
  • Phototherapy uses different types of ultraviolet light (both UVA and ultraviolet B) and focused treatments that last no longer than needed. This approach helps you get relief while lowering your risk for skin damage.

Phototherapy at AHN: Why choose us?

At AHN, you receive care from our board-certified dermatologists. Board certification means our physicians passed exams demonstrating their expertise in skin disease care. Their level of skill means you can count on us for safe phototherapy and exceptional results.

Many people receive phototherapy along with other treatments. AHN offers a broad range of skin disease care options, including the latest medications. Find out more about our dermatology services.

Conditions we treat using phototherapy

We use phototherapy to treat conditions such as:

  • Contact dermatitis: With contact dermatitis, you experience an allergic reaction to substances that touch your skin. Read more about contact dermatitis testing and treatment.
  • Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma: This condition is a form of cancer that starts in the skin cells. Find out more about our cutaneous T-cell lymphoma clinic.
  • Eczema: With eczema, you experience red, itchy patches of skin and swelling. Scratching the affected area makes symptoms worse.
  • Lichen planus: This rare disorder causes itching along with shiny, reddish-purple bumps on your skin.
  • Psoriasis: With psoriasis, you experience red, scaly patches on your skin. The patches may be anywhere on your body but typically affect the elbows, knees, or scalp.
  • Severe itching: If you have liver or kidney disease, buildups of waste in your body may cause severe itching.
  • Vitiligo: This condition happens when there is damage to the cells that produce skin color. The damage causes patches of unusually light skin.

Phototherapy at AHN: What to expect

You’ll receive treatment two to three times per week for several weeks. As your symptoms improve, you will not need phototherapy as often.

Your care may include:

  • UVA light rays: Before treatment, we give you medication (psoralen) that makes your skin more sensitive to light. We then expose your skin to UVA rays.
  • UVB light rays: UVB rays slow skin cell growth. And you do not need to take medication before receiving treatment. If you need phototherapy for your hands or feet, we use a smaller lamp to protect areas of healthy skin.

In the beginning, your symptoms may appear worse before they improve. But many people start seeing results within two to four weeks.

After completing phototherapy, you may live symptom-free for a long time. If symptoms come back, we can start you on treatments again.

Phototherapy locations

Phototherapy is available at:

Allegheny General Hospital

Services available at this location include:

  • Whole body UVB phototherapy
  • Hand and foot UVB phototherapy

We are located at:
Allegheny General Hospital
Allegheny Professional Building
Suite 107
490 East North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
(412) 359-3376

Get directions

Fox Chapel

Services available at this location include:

  • Whole body UVA phototherapy
  • Whole body UVB phototherapy

We are located at:
241 Freeport Road
Suite 7
Aspinwall, PA 15215
(412) 784-1606

Get directions


Services available include hand and foot phototherapy.

We are located at:
125 Emeryville Drive
Suite 120
Cranberry, PA 16066
(724) 741-3120

Get directions

Contact us

Call (412) DOCTORS (412) 362-8677 or request an appointment to learn more about AHN dermatology services.