If you have psoriasis, you’re probably well-versed on the various medicated creams, oral medications, and light therapy that are commonly used to treat it. Maybe they brought you some relief from your dry, itchy patches, but it was short-lived. A laser treatment, then, may be a more effective solution for you. Here’s what you need to know about treating p
How does the laser treatment work?
Phototherapy has been a reliable psoriasis treatment for decades. Using a specially designed cabinet lined with full-length fluorescent light bulbs, the entire body could be treated with therapeutic ultraviolet light.
The setup, though, can be problematic in treating small, stubborn plaques of psoriasis. Enter the excimer laser. It’s designed to produce ultraviolet radiation at a very specific wavelength of ultraviolet light, 308 nanometers. The fluorescent light bulbs in the cabinet create a nearly identical wavelength of UV light at 311 nanometers, which is referred to as narrow band UVB (NB-UVB). But the excimer laser is more precise and, in turn, better able to treat small patches on the knees, elbows, ears, armpits, groin, or buttocks.
It’s also proven useful in treating scalp psoriasis, which occurs in up to 80 percent of people who have psoriasis. When it’s in a highly visible place, like the hairline, it can really impair your quality of life. Treatment with the excimer laser, though, is as simple as moving the hair to expose the plaques.
To this point, the excimer laser has been used largely on children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those with a weakened immune system or an ongoing infection. But it’s becoming a more common spot treatment for a broader audience because of its effectiveness.
How effective are excimer lasers?
Typically, treating psoriasis with excimer lasers takes two to three treatments a week for 10 to 15 weeks is enough to yield a significant improvement in a psoriasis plaque.
The earliest dermatology studies of the excimer laser date back to 1997. Even then, it showed incredible promise, with 84 percent of patients achieving a 75 percent improvement or better of their psoriasis after 10 or fewer treatments.
Beyond its precision, another advantage of the laser treatment is that remission times are generally much longer than they are with topical creams. And there are little to no side effects. In some cases, there may be some blistering, hyperpigmentation, or hypopigmentation at the site of the treatment, but it’s usually mild.