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This is a form of photochemotherapy. It combines the use of a psoralen e.g.
the photosensitizing drug methoxsalen with ultraviolet A phototherapy (PUVA) in
the range of 320 to 400 nm.
The proposed mechanisms of action of PUVA include:
suppression of cell-mediated immunity
- suppression of cell proliferation
by interference with DNA synthesis
PUVA is highly effective in the
treatment of psoriasis with resolution of skin lesions in over 85% of patients
after 20 to 30 treatments combining drug use and ultraviolet A irradiation.
psoralen can cause nausea - patients must wear protective eyewear on the treatment
days to prevent cataract formation
- topical PUVA - patients apply psoralen
paint or gel to the skin or soak in a bath of psoralen solution prior to light
- does not require wearing eyewear or taking tablets
is a risk of nonmelanoma skin cancers associated with prolonged PUVA therapy
PUVA therapy is often combined with other treatments such as retinoids and vitamin
D analogues to reduce the number of exposures required for clearance
- Wood AJ, (1995). Treatment of psoriasis, NEJM; 332 (9):
Last reviewed 10/2020