Does narrow-band ultraviolet B phototherapy work in atopic dermatitis through a local or a systemic effect?
The likely mechanisms of action of narrow-band ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) in atopic dermatitis are several. We attempted, in a 12 patient prospective intraindividually controlled study, to determine whether the effect of NB-UVB in atopic dermatitis is primarily through systemic or local effects. Change in observer-assessed severity of patches of dermatitis covered during each whole-body NB-UVB treatment was compared with change in uncovered neighbouring patches. We found great variation between patients in responses. Only in two (of 12) patients was there a large difference between directly exposed and covered patch dermatitis severity. We suspect that the balance of local and systemic effects important in determining response to NB-UVB in atopic dermatitis varies from patient to patient. This study did not conclusively answer our original question, but did show that in some patients localized effects of NB-UVB are important.
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