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PUVA is a treatment for the skin that combines ultraviolet light and specific medications. The drug psoralen is administered to the patient which makes the patient’s skin ultra sensitive to long wave ultraviolet light. This drug can be taken by mouth or applied directly to the skin. The light is then applied to the skin and allowed to work on the epidermis. PUVA is a form of photochemotherapy and as such is only used on the most severe skin conditions.
PUVA was originally developed as a treatment for psoriasis. Since its original application, the treatment has also been found to be useful in addressing vitiligo, mycosis fungoides, and graft versus host disease. Long-term use of PUVA is not recommended, as it has been associated with a higher risk for developing squamous cell skin carcinomas.