Light is medicine.
Phototherapy & Holistic Dermatology
Owned and Operated by Katie Varman, MD, FAAD
A board-certified dermatologist.
At Body and Sol, we specialize in dermatology, but we treat the whole person. We are committed to using the most natural treatment options to manage your symptoms while we investigate the underlying cause of your skin condition. As a safe and traditional treatment method, phototherapy is our preferred treatment method for inflammatory and autoimmune skin conditions. Our goal is to create direct, easy access to phototherapy services.
Phototherapy is an ancient method of using light for medical therapy. Modern day phototherapy most commonly utilizes narrowband ultraviolet B light (nbUVB) to treat a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune skin conditions. NbUVB works by reducing inflammation in the skin and internally. Treatments start at about 30 seconds and increase to about 3 minutes. They are done 3 times a week for the first month and then the frequency is tapered off as the skin improves.
Functional medicine is an approach that seeks to identify the root-cause of a health concern. Functional testing includes tests such as microbiome analysis, food sensitivity studies, comprehensive adrenal and steroid hormone testing and metabolic profiling. We know now that internal imbalances cause many skin conditions, and functional testing offers us a way to identify and treat the imbalances.
Skin Allergy Testing
Skin allergy testing is used to determine if you have an allergy to a compound in your environment such as a fragrance, detergent, or make-up. Skin “patch testing” is different than the scratch or prick testing done by allergists. Patch testing involves the application of many allergen patches on the back for 4 days to determine if an allergic contact dermatitis results.
Why the deep dive?
I created Body and Sol for two reasons. One, to share my passion for light therapy and two, because skin health is intimately connected to the overall health of a human being. Many skin conditions are the outward expression of internal imbalance, and we will only ever mask the problem if we fail to address these deeper issues. At Body and Sol, we take a deep dive to understand the cause of your skin condition. This may involve looking at gut health, hormones, food sensitivities or toxic exposures. Importantly, we also discuss lifestyle measures like diet and sleep. There are many factors that can contribute to a skin condition, and often it takes a deep dive to uncover those triggers.
Skin Conditions Treated
Psoriasis is a skin condition caused by immune dysfunction in the skin. It is characterized by thick, scaly, red plaques on the skin and is associated with other medical conditions like liver disease, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Psoriasis responds very well to phototherapy, which is considered a first-line treatment modality by the National Psoriasis Foundation. Testing the microbiome can uncover infections and imbalance in the gut that can trigger psoriasis in genetically susceptible individuals.
Eczema is a complex skin condition that is characterized by dry, itchy, red patches on the skin. There are several different causes, but they share a common features that is permeable or “leaky” skin. Leaky skin is unable to keep moisture inside and is unable to keep allergens and pathogens outside. This results in a cascade of inflammation and discomfort. Eczema is often multifactorial and can be triggered by environmental allergens, food allergens, nutritional deficiency, and gut imbalances and infections. Phototherapy is a safe and effective treatment modality for eczema while we investigate your triggers.
Hives or urticaria are smooth, raised, red welts that can develop with remarkable speed anywhere on the skin or mucous membranes. They are very itchy. They are caused by an immediate reaction to an allergen to which the immune system was previously sensitized. Phototherapy is a very effective treatment modality for hives, because it reduces the cells called mast cells that are responsible for releasing chemical mediators. It also improves the body’s ability to tolerate many allergens. Some people are more likely to have immune imbalances that result in hives due to dysbiosis of the gut and overactivity of mast cells.
Vitiligo is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks the pigment-making cells called melanocytes in the skin. It can be focal or widespread. Phototherapy has been a mainstay of vitiligo treatment since 1400 BC! Modern-day phototherapy is safe and works by eliminating the the over-reactive immune cells and bolstering the immune-calming cells. We know now that the gut microbiome plays a pivotal role in autoimmune diseases like vitiligo, and maintaining optimal gut health is critical.
Contact dermatitis can be either irritant or allergic in nature. Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by a substance that is caustic or very drying- for example exposing the skin to a chemical bathroom cleaner. Allergic contact dermatitis is a true allergy to something the skin comes into contact with such as chemicals in a moisturizer or other personal product. Patch testing is skin allergy testing that can be done to determine the specific allergen to which someone is reacting.
Itching can be caused by an abnormality in the skin or internally. There are many different causes from kidney disease to food sensitivity, diabetes or even cancer. Phototherapy is used to treat itching of many causes and is an effective therapy while you investigate into the cause of your itching.
Acne is characterized by the combination of sebum/oil excess, hair follicle plugging, bacterial overgrowth and inflammation. It is a condition of Western society and is driven by an inflammatory diet, gut infections and dysbiosis and sometimes hormonal imbalances or environmental exposures. A root-cause evaluation is used to identify an individual’s triggers.
There are several types of hair loss- the most common being androgenetic alopecia (patterned hair loss), telogen effluvium (stress or nutrient mediated), scarring hair loss and alopecia areata (autoimmune hair loss). Phototherapy is used for alopecia areata, otherwise, a combination of screening blood tests and a functional work-up is often needed to determine the root cause of hair loss.
Many other skin conditions respond well to phototherapy treatment. This includes lichen planus, granuloma annulare, cutaneous t-cell lymphoma, morphea and many more.
There is a role for microbiome analysis and other testing for most skin conditions- even skin cancer. We are learning more about the gut-cancer axis and how important gut microbiome health is for defense against cancer including skin cancer. Maximizing gut health is critical for optimal health.
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Please call or email to schedule an appointment.
Phone: (916) 645-1447
Fax: (866) 502 – 3465
566 E St. Lincoln, CA 95648