Wavelengths in the UVB range are especially useful as these wavelengths alter the cutaneous immune function by reducing hyperproliferation of keratinocytes, which is a primary cause for psoriasis. Since the UVB cannot penetrate into the deeper skin layers, the photobiological effects are primarily limited to within the epidermis and the uppermost dermis region. While broadband phototherapy, with a wider wavelength range, has been used in the past, research has indicated the advantages of narrow-band phototherapy. Considered as a safer, more effective and a long-lasting treatment, narrow band UVB therapy is often considered as the first line of treatment for controlling psoriasis. Figure 1 shows the relative action spectrum of psoriasis including the shorter wavelengths which cause the undesirable burning effect. As observed, a typical broadband source emits non-negligibly in these wavelengths and hence is not an ideal source for treatment. Narrow-band UVB on the other hand, emits in the target wavelength range and hence is a much safer option.

UV LEDs offer a low-maintenance, narrow-band, safe, and accessible, mercury-free solution for targeted-area phototherapy.

While mercury lamps and excimer lasers have been used to provide targeted-area, narrow-band treatment, UV LEDs have broken efficiency barriers to enter the phototherapy market.

With high optical outputs, UV LEDs allow for a shorter exposure time, and a more adaptable form-factor. UVB LEDs can be tuned to emit in the specific wavelength range accurately and can be easily used in a wearable device, suited ideally for localized treatment. Light energy can be directly focused on the lesion in a targeted area, minimizing side-effects on the healthy areas. Unlike the lamps, UV LEDs offer instant ON/OFFs and work on lower voltages, making the operation easier. While lasers also offer a better solution than the lamps, the high costs, size, and maintenance of these devices make them harder to be adopted for this application.

Today’s UV LEDs with sufficient optical output for targeted treatment, offer a non-mercury, narrow-band, low maintenance solution for home and clinical phototherapy devices. UV LEDs are poised to bring a cost-effective, safe and accessible means for treatment of skin conditions and will remain an important player in all phototherapy applications.

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