SolRx UVB Home Phototherapy for Psoriasis
The safe, effective, and convenient solution for long-term relief
Your Immune System is Overreacting.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a common, non-contagious, chronic, relapsing, and remitting immune-mediated disease characterized by skin lesions including red and silver / scaly plaques and papules, which often itch and may vary in severity from minor localized patches to complete body coverage, including hair-covered areas and possibly the genitals. The immune system improperly causes skin cells to locally multiply up to 10 times faster than normal and pile up on each other to form raised and typically scaly lesions.
What are the Treatment Options for Psoriasis?
The medical treatment of psoriasis almost always starts with “topicals”, which are physician prescribed drugs in the form of creams and ointments applied directly to the skin, such as: various potencies of steroids, the Vitamin D analogue “calcipotriol” (Dovonex®/Taclonex®), and topical calcineurin inhibitors (Protopic & Elidel). Dovobet® is a very popular topical that combines a steroid and calcipotriol in one cream. All topical treatments have possible side effects, for example, prolonged steroid use can cause skin atrophy (thinning of the skin), rosacea, irritation and tachyphylaxis (loss of effectiveness). Topicals can also be quite expensive, with one tube costing up to $200 and sometimes a tube or two required per month for extensive psoriasis.
For more severe conditions, the topicals seldom provide much relief beyond itch and flake control, making clinical or home UVB phototherapy1 next in line, which within weeks of diligent use can heal lesions completely such that they become normal, healthy, and clear skin. Lower dose maintenance treatments can then be used to control the condition indefinitely and drug-free with practically no side effects. Plus there is the immense benefit of making large amounts of Vitamin D naturally, which is carried away by the tiny blood vessels in our skin for health benefits throughout the body. As a simple qualification test, if a psoriasis patient responds well to natural summer sunlight or cosmetic tanning (both of which contain a small amount of beneficial UVB but also with a much larger amount of harmful UVA), then medical UVB phototherapy will almost certainly work as well, and likely very much better.
For psoriasis, “UVB-Narrowband” phototherapy using Philips /01 lamps is the gold standard because it economically delivers only the most medically beneficial wavelengths of light around 311 nm, while minimizing the potentially harmful wavelengths (UVA and the most skin-burning of UVB wavelengths sub~305 nm).
Practically, UVB-Narrowband works well in dermatologist and hospital phototherapy clinics (of which there are about 1000 in the USA, and 100 publically funded in Canada), and equally well in the patient’s home2,3,4. Hundreds of medical studies have been done on the subject – try searching “Narrowband UVB” in the US government’s respected PubMed website and you will get over 400 entries!
A close relative to Philips 311 nm UVB-Narrowband is the 308 nm excimer laser. These devices have very high UVB light intensity and are useful for spot targeting and sometimes for scalp psoriasis using a special fibre-optic brush. Excimer lasers are, however very expensive and are therefore found in only a few phototherapy clinics.
UVB LEDs (light emitting diodes) is a promising technology, but the cost per watt is still much more than fluorescent UVB lamps.
The possible side effects of UVB phototherapy are the same as with natural sunlight: skin sunburn, premature ageing of the skin, and skin cancer. Skin sunburning is dosage dependent and controlled by the built-in timer in the phototherapy device used in conjunction with the recognized treatment protocols supplied in the SolRx User’s Manual Exposure Guideline Tables. Premature ageing of the skin and skin cancer are theoretical long-term risks, but when UVA is excluded, decades of use and several medical studies5 have shown these to be minor concerns, especially when compared to the risks of other treatment options. Indeed, UVB phototherapy is safe for kids and pregnant women6, and is compatible with most other psoriasis treatments, including biologics.
UVB-Narrowband in the patient’s home is effective because, although the devices used are typically smaller and have fewer bulbs than those at a phototherapy clinic, they still use the exact same part number of Philips UVB-NB bulbs, so it is only a matter of somewhat longer treatment times to achieve the same dose and the same results. Home UVB-NB treatment times per area of skin range from under a minute when treatments first start, to several minutes after a few weeks or months of consistent use.
A home phototherapy treatment typically begins with a shower or bath (which sheds dead skin that would otherwise block some of the UVB light, and removes any foreign material on the skin that might result in an adverse reaction), followed immediately by the UVB light treatment, and then if necessary the application of any topical creams, ointments, or moisturizers. During treatment, the patient must always wear the UV protective goggles supplied and, unless affected, males should cover both their penis and scrotum using a sock. Treatments are typically 3 to 5 times per week, with every second day being ideal for many patients. Significant clearing can often be achieved in 4 to 12 weeks, after which treatment times and frequency can be reduced and the condition maintained indefinitely, even for decades.
Versus phototherapy in a clinic, the convenience of taking treatments at home has many advantages, including great savings in time and travel, a more consistent treatment schedule (fewer missed treatments), privacy, and the ability to continue with “lose-dose” maintenance treatments after clearing is achieved, instead of being discharged by the clinic and letting psoriasis rebound. Solarc is a great believer in the benefits of ongoing low-dose UVB-NB phototherapy for skin disease control and general health.
Solarc Systems phototherapy product line consists of four SolRx “device families” of different sizes developed over the last 25 years. SolRx devices are almost always supplied as “UVB-Narrowband” using various sizes of Philips /01 311 nm fluorescent bulbs, which last 5 to 10 years for home phototherapy. To find the best device for you, please see our Selection Guide, give us a call at 866‑813‑3357, or come visit our manufacturing facility and showroom at 1515 Snow Valley Road in Springwater Township near Barrie, Ontario; which is just a few kilometres west of Highway 400. We will do our best to help you.
SolRx devices are of course also used by many phototherapy clinics, but Canada is a big country and to help as many people as possible our true passion is home phototherapy. We were founded in 1992 by a lifelong psoriasis sufferer who continues to use UVB home phototherapy to this day with continued, great success almost 40 years after his first UVB treatment in 1979, and with no adverse side effects or skin cancers.
Beyond topicals and phototherapy come the “systemic” drugs, such as methotrexate, cyclosporine, acitretin (Soriatane), apremilast (Otezla) and the “biologics” (Humira, Stelara, etc). Systemic drugs are taken orally or by needle, affect the entire body (the “system”), can have serious side effects7, and in the case of the biologics, are far more expensive ($15,000 to $30,000 per year). Systemics should only be considered when the other less risky therapies fail. For example, the Ontario Ministry of Health’s official “formulary” for Adalimumab (Humira) and Ustekinumab (Stelara) states that, before prescribing the drug, the patient must first fail a “12 week trial of phototherapy (unless not accessible)”. That caveat is unfortunately too often the excuse used to prescribe a biologic despite home phototherapy being readily available. This is something Solarc is trying to get changed so patients might avoid the potentially serious risks of biologics for a tiny fraction of the cost, and to do what we can to control our runaway public healthcare costs.
What our customers are saying…
Solarc Systems’ product line is made up of four SolRx “device families” of different sizes developed over the last 25 years by real phototherapy patients. Today’s devices are almost always supplied as “UVB-Narrowband” (UVB-NB) using different sizes of Philips 311 nm /01 fluorescent lamps, which for home phototherapy will typically last 5 to 10 years and often longer. For the treatment of some specific eczema types, most SolRx devices can alternatively be fitted with bulbs for special UV wavebands: UVB-Broadband, UVA bulbs for PUVA, and UVA-1.
To select the best SolRx device for you, please visit our Selection Guide, give us a phone call at 866‑813‑3357, or come visit our manufacturing plant and showroom at 1515 Snow Valley Road in Minesing (Springwater Township) near Barrie, Ontario; which is just a few kilometres west of Highway 400. We will do our best to help you.
SolRx Home UVB Phototherapy Devices
The SolRx E‑Series is our most popular device family. The Master device is a narrow 6‑foot, 2,4 or 6 bulb panel that can be used by itself, or expanded with similar Add‑On devices to build a multidirectional system that surrounds the patient for optimal UVB-Narrowband light delivery. US$1295 and up
The SolRx 1000‑Series is the original Solarc 6-foot panel that has provided relief for thousands of patients worldwide since 1992. Available with 8 or 10 Philips Narrowband UVB bulbs. US$2595 to US$2895
The SolRx 500‑Series has the greatest light intensity of all Solarc devices. For spot treatments, it can be rotated to any direction when mounted on the yoke (shown), or for hand & foot treatments used with the removable hood (not shown). Immediate treatment area is 18″ x 13″. US$1195 to US$1695
The SolRx 100‑Series is a high-performance 2-bulb handheld device that can be placed directly on the skin. It is intended for spot targeting of small areas, including scalp psoriasis with the optional UV-Brush. All-aluminium wand with clear acrylic window. Immediate treatment area is 2.5″ x 5″. US$795
Contact Solarc Systems
If you need a hardcopy of any information, we ask that you download it from our Download Center. If you are having trouble downloading, we would be pleased to mail you whatever you need.
Address: 1515 Snow Valley Road Minesing, ON, Canada L9X 1K3
Business Hours: 9 am-5 pm EST M-F
It is important that you discuss with your physician / healthcare professional the best choices for you; their advice always takes priority over any guidance provided by Solarc.
References & Links:
- While it is physicians that decide which medical treatments ought to be used, if a healthcare system is paying, it is the government that establishes the “formulary” that dictates which drugs and medical devices get used and when. For example in Ontario, Canada; the 2015 Ontario Ministry of Health formulary for the biologic drug Adalimumab (Humira®) states that it is: “For the treatment of severe plaque psoriasis 18 years of age or older who have experienced failure, intolerance, or have a contraindication to adequate trials of several standard therapies: 6 month trial of at least 3 topical agents including Vitamin D analogues and steroids; 12 week trial of phototherapy (unless not accessible); 6 month trial of at least 2 systemic, oral agents… methotrexate, acitretin, cyclosporine…” This can be interpreted as the government’s acknowledgement that phototherapy is a “standard therapy”, as it is proven to be both economically and medically effective. Indeed, across Canada there are about 100 publicly funded phototherapy clinics and countless home phototherapy devices.
- Home versus outpatient ultraviolet B phototherapy for mild to severe psoriasis: pragmatic multicentre randomised controlled non-inferiority trial (PLUTO study) Koek M.B., Buskens E., Van Weelden H., Steegmans P.H., Bruijnzeel-Koomen C.A., Sigurdsson V.
- Are narrowband ultraviolet B home units a viable option for continuous or maintenance therapy of photoresponsive diseases? Haykal K.A., DesGroseilliers J.P.
- A review of phototherapy protocols for psoriasis treatment. The purpose of this review is to provide some practical guidance to general dermatologists and residents on the specifics of using phototherapy, which, despite its decreasing use, remains one of our most safe and effective treatment strategies for psoriasis care. Lapolla W., Yentzer B.A., Bagel J., Halvorson C.R., Feldman S.R.
- Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in psoriatic patients treated with high-dosephototherapy. Maiorino A., De Simone C., Perino F., Caldarola G., Peris K.
- Pregnancy and Nursing guideline National Psoriasis Foundation
- From a Humira® TV commercial aired in Barrie, Canada on the night of Jan09-2015: “Humira can lower your ability to fight infections including tuberculosis. Serious, sometimes fatal infections and cancers including lymphoma, have happened; as have blood, liver, and nervous system problems, serious allergic reactions, and new or worsening heart failure.”
- Ultraviolet Phototherapy Management of Moderate-to-Severe Plaque Psoriasis, An Evidence-Based Analysis, Health Quality Ontario
Canadian Dermatology Association
Canadian Association of Psoriasis Patients (CAPP)
Humira is a registered trademark of AbbVie Inc.
Otezla is a registered trademark of Celgene Corporation
Soriatane is a registered trademark of Stiefel Laboratories, Inc.
Stelara is a registered trademark of Janssen Biotech, Inc.
Dovonex, Dovobet and Taclonex are registered trademarks of LEO Laboratories Ltd.