What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disorder which exists in many forms. Most people with psoriasis have psoriasis present on their body or scalp, or both, usually described as psoriasis vulgaris. Some people might have inverse psoriasis (e.g. psoriasis present on the genitals or armpits) or nail-psoriasis (e.g. psoriasis located on their nails).

It is estimated that about 2-3% of all people in Europe suffer from some form of psoriasis. It is known that in Asia or Africa the percentage of people suffering from psoriasis is lower.

Pictures of psoriasis

The area is shaved and cleaned, and an anaesthetic cream applied. The laser then produces pulsed beams of highly concentrated light which is absorbed by the pigment located in the hair follicles, damaging the surrounding follicle.

The procedure can be uncomfortable, but it is not usually painful. The length of a laser session may be a few minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of the area being treated. Any redness and swelling of the affected areas usually disappears in a short time. And most people return to normal activity right away.

Psoriasis can vary in severity and location – over time. Some people may have slight, fine scaling on their elbows, or no scaling at all but only intense redness, and others may have thick, scaly plaques. Some people only have scalp psoriasis and others only have psoriasis on their legs and feet.

Many people experienced their first outbreak of psoriasis during a stressful period of their lives, and stress is known to have a negative impact on psoriasis. Apart from stress other ‘trigger factors’ exist. A ‘trigger factor’ is something which can worsen your psoriasis. Well-known ‘trigger factors’ are: certain types of medication, smoking, alcohol and emotional disturbances.

Light therapy

It is not exactly known how light works on the skin, but it is known that natural light and different forms of UV treatments can improve psoriasis. UV is used to treat moderate-to-severe psoriasis that is resistant to topical creams and ointments.
Light treatments are often given in a dermatologist’s clinic.

There are currently three types of ultraviolet (UV) treatment:

  • UVB treatment
    To receive this treatment you enter a light box (not a tanning bed), wearing goggles and other protection. The skin is exposed to UVB rays for a specific period of time. UVB should be administered by an experienced photodermatologist. Most patients need 18-30 treatments before they see substantial clearing.
  • PUVA treatment
    PUVA is a combination of UVA exposure and a photosensitizing agent (to be taken separately). PUVA treatment is effective, but recent studies suggest that it poses threat of skin damage and cancer.
  • Narrow-band UVB, or laser phototherapy
     this treatment high-intensity UV radiation is delivered precisely to the affected skin cells. This type of UV exposure is effective and usually it shows results after approx. 10 to 13 exposures over 3 to 4 weeks


What Is the Excimer Laser? Why Use It for Psoriasis?

The excimer laser is a type of ultraviolet light therapy. Gases are combined to create a focal light beam in the ultraviolet range. When focused on an area of psoriasis, the laser light transfers energy to the tissue. The interaction of the laser with skin cells slows their abnormally fast growth, which is responsible for plaque formation, and decreases inflammation at the site of the plaque.

The advantage of using the excimer laser to treat psoriasis plaques is its very small, focused beam, which targets only the psoriasis plaque, decreasing the overall risk of skin cancer. Because the beam can be focused very specifically on an individual psoriasis plaque, a higher dose of UV light can be utilized, which means fewer sessions are needed.

How Are the Treatments Performed?

Excimer laser therapy occurs in a doctor’s office a couple of times per week for a total of about eight to 10 sessions. Each session is only several minutes long. After successful treatment, some people have reported that their psoriasis remained in remission for as long as eight months.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Excimer Laser Therapy?

People with areas of psoriasis that have been resistant to other treatments may be good candidates for the excimer laser. Because it’s a very focused treatment, it can’t be used to treat widespread plaques. It’s more suited to treating problem areas, such as thickened, crusty plaques on knees or elbows. Not all psoriasis patients are good candidates for ultraviolet light treatment of any kind.

Are There Any Potential Complications? Complications of excimer laser treatment include redness (similar to a sunburn), darkening of the skin (increased pigmentation, as with a suntan), sores or blisters on the skin and scarring.