I will spend some time on another post discussing the challenges faced by the clinician to determine UV treatment times for his or her patients in a clinical environment. See “Dosimetry and do I need it?” to see why we believe the treatment protocol below is best for the TYPICAL home user.
The following is a typical treatment protocol to determine how to find the correct treatment time for a user at home. Remember that you should review this protocol with your doctor before starting any treatment!
You and others in the room need to be aware that eyes are very sensitive
to UV light and your eyes must be protected at all costs.
One needs to recognize that each of us will require treatment times that are unique. Amongst others, some of the items that can affect treatment times include our individual skin type and our prior exposure to UV (Ultraviolet) light from the sun and or other sources. To some extent our diet and/or other drugs we may be taking can affect our skin’s sensitivity to UV.
To determine optimal treatment time for the home user, one can learn to self regulate or self medicate by following a fairly simple protocol. First we need to determine at what point our skin develops what’s called an erythemal response or mild sun burn.
Let’s begin safely by starting with a very low dose and then increasing that dose a little at a time every 24 hours for several days. During this initial phase you will need to take notes and do an exposure every day at approximately the same time. Never repeat an exposure in less than twelve hours. It’s best to do your treatments at the same time each day 24 hours apart. NEVER DO A TREATMENT AT BED TIME AND THEN AGAIN THE NEXT MORNING!
Start with 10 to 15 seconds on day one. If you have very fair skin then increase your dosage each day by 10 seconds per day until you get a mild sunburn or erythemal response. This usually occurs 8 to 24 hours after an exposure. If you have darker skin then increasing by 15 to 20 seconds per day is probably very safe. Keep notes each day and on the day you do turn a little pink then begin to follow the regimen outlined by your doctor. It is likely that your doctor will recommend treatment every second day or perhaps three days per week once the correct treatment time has been determined.
After determining the correct dosage, expose yourself every second day or three days per week using that time. Each of us will have a different time. After several days you will probably notice that your skin will no longer turn mildly pink and at that point increase your exposure by 10 or 15 seconds. This will in all likelihood cause a minor sun burn again and then you will continue treatment at this new time until once again you no longer have a skin response.
ONE MAJOR CAUTION! If you interrupt treatment for a few days because of travel, vacation or any reason, when you resume treatment REDUCE your exposure significantly to reduce the possibility of a sun burn. It’s best to back off to very short exposure times and then, just as you did during the initial phase above, increase your time daily in small increments until you find the correct time again. It is always wiser to under expose than over expose. Nobody enjoys a sun burn.
Keep a treatment log to review with your doctor during your next scheduled visit and all subsequent visits. Your log should record the date, the length of each treatment and the effect you notice on your skin following treatment. After each treatment, record in your log, the date of treatment, the length of each exposure, the time of the day of the exposure and any other appropriate information, (e.g. forgot lip balm, put sunscreen on tender area of breast, etc.)
If you experience a sun burn then reduce or stop treatment for several days until your skin has healed and then cautiously return to treatment again following the guidelines above to determine the correct exposure time.
If after a treatment, a small area feels sunburned, you may protect that specific area with the sunscreen during several treatments until that area gets back to normal. (Make a note in your log.) You should see your physician regularly at the intervals he or she requests during periods when you are actively using the unit. Always take your notebook with you when you see your physician.