What is photodynamic therapy?

Photodynamic therapy or PDT is a treatment that uses special drugs, called photosensitizing agents, along with light (referred to as Blue Light) to kill cancer cells. The drugs only work after they have been activated or “turned on” by certain kinds of light.

Over a certain amount of time the drug is absorbed by the cancer cells. Then light is applied to the area to be treated. The light causes the drug to react with oxygen, which forms a chemical that kills the cells.

What are Actinic Keratosis?

  • Actinic keratosis (AKs) are rough – textured, dry scaly patches on the skin that are caused by excessive UV exposure such as sunlight.
  • They can range in color from skin-toned to reddish brown and can be as small as a pinhead or larger than a quarter.
  • They occur most often on the face, scalp and ears.

Who is at risk of developing AK's?

Individuals with a higher likelihood of developing one or more AKs are those with:

  • Fair skin
  • Blond or red hair
  • Blue, green or grey eyes
  • Those over 40
  • History of kidney disease or weakened immune system
  • Daily long-term exposure to the sun
  • Multiple severe sunburns early in life

*AKs develop as the result of years of sun exposure and are cumulative over time.
*Even if you didn’t suntan much, years of simple tasks can add up to significant damage (i.e. walking the dog, playing a sport, going to the mailbox).

When is the best time to have blue light therapy?

  • Plan 2-3 weeks before attending important events – weddings, reunions, photos, etc.
  • You will be in the office 1.5-2 hours for your appointment.
  • Plan to stay out of the sunlight or direct light from the car window for 48 hours after treatment.

What should I purchase for my appointment?

  • Bring a wide-brimmed hat so you will have good coverage on your way home from your treatment.
  • A gentle facial cleanser and moisturizer such as Cetaphil or CeraVe products.
  • Sun Block with an SPF of at least 30 (ask your nurse about our EltaMD sunscreen line).

What should I expect during my appointment?

  • Your face will be cleansed using acetone to ensure all oils have been removed from the skin.
  • A medicine called Levulan, will be uniformly applied to your AK lesions.
  • You will sit in the waiting room as the medicine soaks in anywhere from 60-120 minutes.
  • A blue light box will be positioned around your face or scalp and protective eyewear will be worn.
  • The blue light treatment will take approximately 17 minutes.

What does the blue light feel like?

  • The blue light is of low intensity and will not heat the skin.
  • During the treatment, you may experience sensations of burning tingling, stinging or prickling of the treated AKs.
  • The feeling of discomfort should subside as early as 1 minute after treatment. Any UV exposure within 48 hours after treatment can result in increased discomfort.

What should I expect after treatment?

  • The AKs and surrounding skin may redden, swell and scale.
  • Peeling and scabbing is expected and should resolve by 4 weeks.
  • Wear sunscreen daily as a sunburn can delay your healing from the treatment and cause more sun damage.

Who should NOT have the blue light treatment?

  • If you have a cutaneous photosensitivity.
  • If you have a diagnosis of porphyria or know allergies to porphyria.
  • If you are claustrophobic when objects are enclosed around your face/scalp.

 

Sarasota 

3355 Clark Road #101
Sarasota, Florida 34231

941.921.4131

Englewood

699 S. Indiana Ave
Englewood, FL 34223

941.474.8811

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Paradise Dermatology
An Affiliate of Premier Dermatology, LLC