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Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has been an effective treatment for a number of chronic skin disorders, and its ability to alleviate these conditions has been well documented. Although nonionizing, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is still damaging to deoxyribonucleic acid integrity, and has a number of unpleasant side effects ranging from erythema (sunburn) to carcinogenesis. As the conditions treated with this therapy tend to be chronic, exposures are repeated and can be high, increasing the lifetime probability of an adverse event or mutagenic effect. Despite the potential detrimental effects, quantitative ultraviolet dosimetry for phototherapy is an underdeveloped area and better dosimetry would allow clinicians to maximize biological effect whilst minimizing the repercussions of overexposure. This review gives a history and insight into the current state of UVR phototherapy, including an overview of biological effects of UVR, a discussion of UVR production, illness treated by this modality, cabin design and the clinical implementation of phototherapy, as well as clinical dose estimation techniques. Several dose models for ultraviolet phototherapy are also examined, and the need for an accurate computational dose estimation method in ultraviolet phototherapy is discussed.


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