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Summary

Background.  While narrowband ultraviolet B (UVB) phototherapy is a well-established treatment for a range of skin conditions in adults, there is little in the literature about its use in children and data regarding its long-term carcinogenic potential are lacking.

Aim.  We undertook a retrospective review of the use of narrowband UVB phototherapy in a paediatric population attending two Glasgow Hospitals.

Methods.  Phototherapy case notes for all children aged 16 years and under at time of treatment were reviewed at two hospital sites between 1996 and 2002.

Results.  In total, 77 children had been treated (median age 12 years, range 4–16). The conditions treated most frequently were psoriasis (45%) and atopic eczema (32%). Other dermatoses treated included alopecia areata, acne, hydroa vacciniforme and polymorphic light eruption. Treatment courses for atopic conditions were longer than those required for psoriatic conditions: median number of treatments 24 for atopic eczema (range 3–46), and 17.5 for psoriasis (range 9–35). By the end of treatment, 68% of the atopic patients and 63% of the patients with psoriasis had cleared. The adverse event profile was similar to that in adults, with erythema, herpes simplex reactivation and PLE all recorded. Anxiety was a problem for five patients.

Conclusion.  We conclude that narrowband UVB phototherapy is a useful and well-tolerated treatment for children with severe or intractable inflammatory skin disease, but concerns remain regarding long-term side-effects.