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Online dermatology and home-based phototherapy connect patients to more care options

DermatologistOnCall physicians offer a wide range of options to patients seeking dermatology care online. Through their virtual offices, they address over 3,000 conditions of the skin, hair, and nails. Most patients expect our doctors to have oral and topical therapies at their disposal. However, many are pleasantly surprised to learn our doctors can prescribe devices for home therapy as well. Among the most common of these device-driven treatment options is phototherapy. Phototherapy is a popular treatment for psoriasis, vitiligo, and eczema. It can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with other approaches.

What is phototherapy?

Phototherapy, or light therapy, uses ultraviolet (UV) light for its healing effects. For nearly a century, it's been used to treat chronic skin conditions like psoriasis, vitiligo, and severe eczema. While many treatments impact the entire body, UV light can offer a localized approach - targeting only the affected area.

For psoriasis patients, light therapy can also slow down the development of thick, scaly skin. For those living with vitiligo, it stimulates the skin's melanocytes (pigment-producing cells). This creates a more even skin tone.

Many oral medications, drugs, and topicals may work well with phototherapy and may enhance results. It's also a convenient option to consider for children and those that wish to avoid taking oral medications or applying creams and ointments.

Companies like Clarify Medical make home phototherapy possible with rechargeable hand-held devices and remote physician monitoring.

How does it work at home?

Once a physician has determined home phototherapy is appropriate for a patient's condition and has prescribed a unit, a care representative reaches out. They coach patients through the process of staring with the new device. The phototherapy system connects to the patient's smartphone, and their physician will monitor progress through the app. Systems are programmed remotely to deliver the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. The process is quick, with sessions lasting just a few minutes. Periodically, patients must follow up with their dermatologist, ideally through the DOC online portal, to ensure a positive response to the therapy.

How is phototherapy prescribed?

Like any prescription product or service, a physician consult is required to determine if the treatment is appropriate. We encourage patients to indicate interest in specific therapies in the open text boxes when communicating with providers. While no prescription is ever guaranteed, expressing preferences to providers and collaborating over treatment protocols is the best way to establish a customized routine that fits individual lifestyles.