Photodynamic Therapy Aftercare Treatment

by Greta Chapin-McGill ; Updated September 28, 2017

Photodynamic therapy is a treatment doctors use to effectively target diseased tissue and destroy it. Using a light-activated photosynthesizing medication, the treatment involves application of the photosynthesizing drug, an incubation period and application of light to activate the medication. Photodynamic therapy or PDT is used to treat various kinds of cancers and pre cancers, acne, rosacea, wrinkles and psoriasis.

PDT Treatment

When injected into the bloodstream, photosynthesizing medication binds to diseased cancer cells and affects blood vessels in the tumors, preventing them from receiving any nutrients. After an incubation time of 24 to 72 hours the medication is activated by a light source, usually a laser. For internal cancer treatments the laser light is delivered through fiber optic cable. The laser light is absorbed by the photosynthesizing medication, and the diseased cells are destroyed.

Doctors also use PDT treatment for skin conditions like acne and rosacea. These treatments involve application of photosynthesizing medication directly to affected areas, and after the incubation period light is used in the form of lasers or blue light. This type of treatment helps to decrease overactive oil glands and targets the blood vessels associated with rosacea. PDT treatment can improve the appearance of wrinkles in the skin.

Cancer Treatment Aftercare

Injection of photosynthesizing medications will result in light sensitivity. Skin and eyes become extremely vulnerable to all types of light, not just sunlight; this can last as long as 3 months. Windows and shades in your home must remain closed, and sunglasses and a wide-brim hat are necessary. Limit your time outside, and cover as much of your body as possible. Don't stay in a totally dark room; some indoor light exposure will help to dissipate the drug in your system.

Aftercare for Skin Treatments

PDT skin treatment may result in redness, swelling, peeling and blistering of the treated areas that can last for several days. Stay out of the sun for at least 48 hours after your treatment, and wear sunscreen and/or sunblock and a wide-brim hat to protect your skin. Apply cold packs to help with swelling and take Motrin, Tylenol, or whatever prescription medication your doctor recommends for any residual pain. Your doctor may recommend topical treatment such as antibiotic ointments or Vaseline to help with peeling skin.

About the Author

Greta Chapin-McGill has been a writer and beauty professional for more than 15 years. Her articles have appeared in "Nails Magazine" and "les Nouvelles Esthetiques." Chapin-McGill attended Howard University and the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., studying painting and art history. She is now a features writer for SantaFe.com.