What is phototherapy?

Phototherapy, is also called light therapy, and involves regularly exposing diseased skin to a medical light source. This is a safe, effective and convenient treatment for a variety of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.  This is done under the supervision of the skin clinic doctors and nurses.  The light therapy offered at Pioneer Health is referred to a “narrow-band UVB”. This is the safest and the most effective light therapy for most skin conditions.  It is important to note that indoor tanning beds are NOT a substitute for phototherapy performed with a prescription and under a doctor’s supervision. Pioneer Health Albany does not support the use of indoor tanning and raises the risk of melanoma.


Who can benefit from phototherapy?

Phototherapy is well established and effective treatment for a range of skin conditions. The common conditions include psoriasis and eczema.  There are many other conditions that also benefit from phototherapy.  Your skin clinic doctor will advise if phototherapy is useful for your condition, and what other options are available for you.

What should I expect with phototherapy? 

During your visit you will stand in the light cabinet undressed, except for underwear and protective goggles. To be effective, phototherapy generally requires 3 treatments per week at the practice, with each treatment lasting about 1 minute. 

A typical phototherapy course for psoriasis consists of 12 weeks of treatment, though some patients benefit from shorter or longer treatment schedules depending on their condition.  Please note that response to treatment is not rapid. 4-6 weeks of steady treatment are required to see improvements.  Like any medical treatment there are potential risks to phototherapy. These risks will be discussed with you at the time of your initial assessment.  Eye protection must be worn with every treatment t prevent damage to the eyes (this will be provided by the practice).

How can I access phototherapy?

If you wish to consider phototherapy, or have been referred for phototherapy, we encourage you to make an appointment at the Albany Skin Clinic. The doctors who will be providing phototherapy are Dr John Rowlands, Dr David Tadj, and Dr James Turner, . You will have an initial assessment of your skin condition and other past health problems. The doctor will establish whether phototherapy will be suitable and safe treatment for you. The doctor will then provide you with a personalised phototherapy prescription, taking into account your skin type. You will receive detailed information and instructions about your phototherapy, including scheduling and potential adverse effects, before commencing your treatment.

What does phototherapy cost?

To access phototherapy you will need to be initially assessed by one of our skin doctors at the practice. This visit will be billed as longer consult. Sometimes skin biopsies or other tests are needed if your skin condition cannot be confirmed clinically.  Once you have been provided with a phototherapy prescription by the doctor, you will be asked to pay a phototherapy induction fee of $120, before you start your photo therapy course. Your regular phototherapy attendances at the practice will be bulkbilled provided that you have a valid Medicare card.  Follow-up consultations to review your progress are conducted every 6 weeks.  

The out of pocket costs for a phototherapy treatment cycle will thus consist of the consultation fees, and the phototherapy induction fee. Please refer to the Pioneer Health website for current consultation pricing.

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