Mail (May, 1998)

Homemade UVB
by Robert R.

CAUTION:  Readers are encouraged to also read "Homemade UVB Lamp Misrepresented"

Ed: I have achieved a lot of success with a homemade UVB source to clear the P on my hands. I am a jeweler and had very heavy involvement on my right hand, which almost prevented me from working. Trips to the Dr. resulted in creams and alternating diagnosis of P and excema. The last time I saw him I asked about UVB and got a perfunctory "Hmmm, I guess it might work," comment. I pressed for a prescrip as I had read that one was needed for rental or purchase [of the home machines].

Upon research, I found the medical units were extremely expensive, so set out to find alternative sources for this treatment. I ran across a link—http://www.sonic.net/daltons/melissa/j_ball.html—giving exposure equivalents for UVB sources to natural sunlight as well as numbers for various bulb types. Using this data, I purchased a Sylvania F20T12/350BL 20-watt bulb from a local wholesaler here in Seattle. My cost was $26 and the cost of the 24" fixture Lights of America model 9010 another $16. I have mounted this under my desk here by my computer and spend an hour each day exposing my hands while surfing the net. I keep my hands about 6" away from the bulb while exposing them. This has given me immediate relief and has prevented additional flare ups as long as I have used this regimen. I still get occasional thickening and cracking but MUCH reduced in frequency and severity. I can't vouch for any experience but my own, but this may be a cost-effective and convenient way for others to try UVB therapies. -Robert R.

P.S. - Leave the plastic shield off the fixture when using the unit. Good luck! -RR

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Ed's Response: Thanks for sharing this information, Robert! Of course, NPF and the FDA would probably be appalled ... but initiative shouldn't be censored. I would recommend to anyone who tries this that they let their derm in on it and have their progress periodically examined for tell-tale signs of melanoma. One more question for you, Robert: Does it give your hands a nice tan, too? -Ed

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