Background: The Dead Sea basin, the lowest terrestrial point on earth, is recognized as a natural treatment center for patients with various cutaneous and rheumatic diseases. Psoriasis is the major skin disease treated at the Dead Sea with excellent improvement to complete clearance exceeding 85% after 4 weeks of treatment. These results were postulated to be associated with a unique spectrum of ultraviolet radiation present in the Dead Sea area. Methods: The UVB and UVA radiation at two sites is measured continuously by identical sets of broad-band Solar Light Co. Inc. meters (Philadelphia, PA). The spectral selectivity within the UVB and UVA spectrum was determined using a narrow-band spectroradiometer, UV-Optronics 742 (Orlando, FL).The optimum exposure time intervals for photoclimatherapy, defined as the minimum ratio of erythema to therapeutic radiation intensities, were also determined using a Solar Light Co. Inc. Microtops II, Ozone Monitor-Sunphotometer. Results: The ultraviolet radiation at the Dead Sea is attenuated relative to Beer Sheva as a result of the increased optical path length and consequent enhanced scattering. The UVB radiation is attenuated to a greater extent than UVA and the shorter erythema UVB spectral range decreased significantly compared with the longer therapeutic UVB wavelengths. Conclusions: It was demonstrated that the relative attenuation within the UVB spectral range is greatest for the shorter erythema rays and less for the longer therapeutic UVB wavelengths, thus producing a greater proportion of the longer therapeutic UVB wavelengths in the ultraviolet spectrum. These measurements can be utilized to minimize the exposure to solar radiation by correlating the cumulative UVB radiation dose to treatment efficacy and by formulating a patient sun exposure treatment protocol for Dead Sea photoclimatherapy.
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