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Finally Prescribed Phototherapy, but How about Tanning Salons?
from Mike T.

Ed:  Really enjoy FlakeHQ.  Recently I went to a new derm.  I had been having flare-ups of my "seborrheic dermatitis" that were awful!  Well, low and behold, I had been earlier misdiagnosed and my real problem is full blown P!

I kind of suspected it all along, but was in big time denial.  Anyway my new derm is a great doctor and a very caring individual.  He says my body coverage is “moderate” and has prescribed phototherapy.  I have a request into my insurance company and am anxiously awaiting their OK.

I have a couple of questions. Does the standard tanning booth give the same results?  I am going to Florida the first week in April and would like to get started on treatment but the insurance company is really slow to respond. Will doing this hurt or help?  Also, what about phototherapy in general? Does it work? Will it lead to other problems? Thanks for your time Ed and to all fellow "Flakers" — hang in there and enjoy life. My best to you all!   -Mike T.


Ed’s Response:  Knowing you have P is, of course, a mixed blessing.  No one wants it, but unless you know you’ve got it you can’t go about treating it properly.  Dermatologist-prescribed phototherapy is a good idea, especially as a first-try treatment.  Substituting tanning bed sessions for dermatologist-prescribed phototherapy isn’t a good idea. 

But the truth is, a debate rages as to the benefits of tanning salons for people with P.  Tanning salons aren’t forced to regulate their machines the way derms do.  The wavelengths my be scattered and unpredictable and so is the potency (which is an exposure factor: energy + time).  Problem with any phototherapy is that you can get too much “sunlight” and, as we all know, that can lead to cancer and prematurely aged skin.

Chances are good your derm isn’t going to stand you in a light closet and set the timer for twenty minutes (more-or-less what you might expect from a tanning salon).  There are a number of phototherapy regimens for P and some of them involve the use of drugs and/or topicals as well as the light.

Also, there are flakers who have found exposure to sunlight substantially improves their flaking and others who have found it does not.  Those that don’t respond to sunlight — the kind you get outside — might respond to dermatologist-prescribed phototherapy.  The converse of this logic is that those who DO find sunshine improves their P often find a tanning bed will help, too, in the off seasons.  Which are you? 

Hopefully your insurance will come through and you will be able to try the dermatologist-prescribed phototherapy.  While your at it, talk to your derm about natural sunlight and tanning beds.  Based on your response in his light closet, he might be inclined to give you a thumbs up or down on using salons and relaxing afternoons on the beach. 

Let us know how you do!  -Ed

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