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Abstract

Background  An effective prophylactic treatment of patients with polymorphic light eruption (PLE) consists of repeated low, gradually increasing exposures to UVB radiation. This so-called UV(B) hardening induces better tolerance of the skin to sunlight.

Objective  SunshowerMedical company (Amsterdam) has developed an UV (B) source that can be used during taking shower. The low UV fluence of this apparatus makes it an interesting device for UV hardening. In a group of PLE patients, we compared the effectiveness of the irradiation with SunshowerMedical at home with that of the UVB treatment in the hospital.

Methods  The PLE patients were randomized for one of the treatments. The hospital treatment consisted of irradiations with broad-band UVB (Waldmann 85/UV21 lamps) twice a week during 6 weeks. The home UV-device was used each day with the maximal irradiation time of 6 min. The outcome assessment was based on the information obtained from patients’ dermatological quality of life (DLQI) questionnaires, the ability of both phototherapies to reduce the provocation reaction and from the patients’ evaluation of the long-term benefits of their phototherapies.

Results  Sixteen patients completed treatment with SunshowerMedical and thirteen completed treatment in hospital. Both types of phototherapy were effective. There was a highly significant improvement in DLQI with either treatment. In most cases, the hardening reduced or even completely suppressed clinical UV provocation of PLE. The patients using SunshowerMedical at home were, however, much more content with the treatment procedure than the patients visiting the dermatological units.

Conclusions  Both treatments were equally effective in the induction of skin tolerance to sunlight in PLE patients. However, the home treatment was much better accepted than the treatment in the hospital.