Excimer Laser: A Ray of Light in the Treatment of Psoriasis and Vitiligo

By Caroline Raftopol, PA-C

        As providers of quality care at Cindy Hoffman Dermatology, we understand that patients with chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and vitiligo may endure a life-long struggle to effectively manage their symptoms.  Excimer laser is part of a comprehensive strategy to achieve treatment goals and improve quality of life for patients with various skin disorders, such as plaque psoriasis and vitiligo, which may respond to light therapy.

        The technology utilized by the Excimer laser is sophisticated enough to dazzle any science whiz, but the premise behind its effectiveness comes from the simple observation that certain skin conditions improve with sunlight.  Conventional phototherapy methods, such as light booths, are effective in slowing the rate of growth of affected skin cells and reducing plaque thickness in patients with psoriasis, but full body treatment may result in exposure of unaffected areas of skin to harmful ultraviolet radiation.  Excimer laser is a safer and more effective means of treating resistant psoriatic plaques as it creates a targeted beam of narrowband ultraviolet (UVB) light, allowing for enhanced treatment of affected areas while minimizing the risk of exposure of healthy skin.  It is also helpful for treating vitiligo, a disorder where skin begins to lose its color, as it can stimulate cells to produce skin pigment known as melanin.  Excimer laser may also be used in combination with other treatments such as topical corticosteroids and systemic medications to increase effectiveness of treatment and maintain results over longer periods of time.

        Excimer laser treatments are painless and take only a few minutes.  Patients should cleanse the affected areas prior to treatment so that they are clean, dry, and free of any lotion, makeup, or SPF-containing products.  Treatments are done in the office in a controlled setting by a certified technician, who will determine the best dosage level of light.  A light-emitting handpiece is placed directly on the treatment areas, with most patients experiencing no discomfort during treatment.  Patients may feel slight warmth shortly after treatment which is mild and temporary.  Side effects such as blistering and hyperpigmentation are less common and short-lived.  Many patients only need twice weekly sessions for about 4 to 6 weeks of treatment, as opposed to 30 or more phototherapy booth sessions.

        To see if you are a candidate for treatment or for inquiries regarding insurance coverage, please call our offices at Cindy Hoffman Dermatology to schedule a consultation.

 

References:

Gerber W, Arheilger B, Ha TA, Hermann J, Ockenfels HM (2003). Ultraviolet B 308-nm excimer laser treatment of psoriasis: a new phototherapeutic approach. Br J Dermatol, 149(6):1250-8.  Retrieved from web on March 17, 2014 from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14674904 

Mudigonda T, Dabade TS, Feldman SR (2012). A review of targeted ultraviolet B phototherapy for psoriasis. J Am Acad Dermatol, 66(4):664-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2011.07.011. Epub 2011 Oct 14.
 
Ra Medical Systems, Inc. (2006). Pharos EX-308 excimer laser.  Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://www.ramed.com/ramedical_products.html

 

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