Monday, January 9, 2012

Chemistry of UV Light Box

UV light therapy is indicated by allopathic medical professionals for skin disorders, such as psoriasis as well as mood disorders like seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Homeopathic practitioners advocate UV therapy for a host of ailments from immune system disorders to depression to bug bites, according to the American Cancer Society. Therapy is delivered, either generally as with a tanning bed, or in a more targeted delivery from a UV light box, a simple device that concentrates the UV rays to a specific area.

There are portable devices that can be used at home and carried relatively easily, and there are large stationary UV treatment devices that either look like a phone booth for standing treatments or a tanning bed for lying down. In each case, the box is generally coated with reflective material or paint to focus the rays.
Light boxes for the home are often prescribed for sufferers of psoriasis, and their use meets the guidelines for evidence-based medicine so they are often covered by insurance, according to Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina.
UV light boxes are fitted with ballasts, starters and wires to carry and regulate the current to the bulbs. A starter is used with most fluorescent bulbs, and it serves as a current gatekeeper. The electrical current is carried to the starter by the wires from the electricity source. This heats the elements inside the starter which expand and close the circuit, sending current to the filaments in the bulb which heat up and excite the vapor in the bulb. The ballast serves as a current limiter preventing arcing at the filament. Generally, each bulb has a starter but one ballast can serve a circuit with two tubes.
The ultraviolet portion of the electromagnetic spectrum exists between the wavelengths of 10 nm and 400 nm, but the wavelength most useful in the treatment of psoriasis is around 300 nm, otherwise known as UV B. The bulbs look like ordinary fluorescents until they are turned on when emit a blue to purple color.
UVB is the type of ultraviolet light in the sun's rays that is most responsible for sun burn, so light therapy sessions should be guided by a doctor for specific durations to prevent injury. Patients using UV therapy at home should do so only on the instructions of their physician, and with the exact methods and durations explained before beginning.

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