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Linda Delgado stands in front of one of the light boxes in the Phototherapy Center.
Phototherapy technician Linda Delgado gets to know her patients very well. That’s because patients with problematic skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo, or life-threatening diseases such as cutaneous lymphoma, visit BWH’s new Phototherapy Center up to several times a week for light treatments.
“It’s very nice to see patients’ skin clearing already after a few treatments,” said Delgado, who recently joined the BWH center with more than 27 years of experience as a phototherapy technician. “That’s the goal.”
BWH Dermatology opened its Phototherapy Center at 221 Longwood Ave. in November to offer safe, effective treatments to patients with a range of skin conditions.
“We’re really excited to offer this therapy to patients,” said Elizabeth Buzney, MD, director of the center. “It’s nice to be able to offer our patients phototherapy treatment right here.”
The center encompasses two standing light boxes and one hand-and-foot unit for localized therapy. Patients stand inside the light boxes, which are open on the top.
The light boxes operate with UVA and UVB at prescribed wavelengths that help control inflammation. Patients begin at low doses, such as 10 seconds of therapy, and they gradually may increase to several minutes, so that their skin does not burn. The center adheres to strict regulations and safety protocols to ensure patients are protected.
That’s important to patients like Nina Griffiths, who visits the center three times a week for treatment of lichen planus, an abnormal immune reaction that causes a rash.
“They’re extremely careful because I’m fair-skinned,” she said. “The progression of time is very slow, which is a good thing because you don’t want to burn on top of everything else.”
“It’s really great that this is available here,” she added.
The treatments help clear patients’ skin and ease the emotional impact of conditions like psoriasis.
“Psoriasis ranks very highly in diseases linked to depression and changes in quality of life,” Buzney said. “To be able to help give someone clear skin with phototherapy can really improve their confidence and make a huge difference emotionally.”
Phototherapy, although not for everyone, is a safe option with very few potential side effects. “Some medications used to treat skin inflammation can cause significant internal side effects,” she said. “And patients who have liver or kidney problems, for example, are often precluded from taking more medications, but many can have phototherapy.”
In addition to treating patients, the center also aims to conduct research and provide teaching on treatment of inflammatory skin conditions to nursing staff and residents.
“We want to figure out how we can continually improve treatment for our patients,” Buzney said.