Treatment with LightPhototherapy means treatment with light. For decades, phototherapy generally relied upon surrounding the patient with full-length fluorescent light bulbs in a specially designed cabinet. In this way, the entire body could be treated with therapeutic ultraviolet light. A brief primer on phototherapy provides some more details on this type of treatment.
A Niche Treatment for Small SpotsAlthough generally effective, it can be somewhat troublesome to use phototherapy to treat small areas of the body. For example, what if someone just wanted their hands or feet treated? In these instances, a special booth with openings for the hands or feet can be used, sparing the rest of the body unnecessary exposure to ultraviolet light.
But what if you just have a few very stubborn plaques of psoriasis? Can you spot treat areas with ultraviolet light? The answer is yes and the tools used are special lasers called 308nm excimer lasers. This type of laser is specially designed to produce ultraviolet radiation at a very specific wavelength -- 308 nanometers. This wavelength of ultraviolet light is highly effective at treating psoriasis. A nearly identical wavelength of light, 311nm is referred to as narrow band UVB (NB-UVB) but is only available using special fluorescent light bulbs in the aforementioned cabinets or booths. Excimer laser gives us the benefits of NB-UVB with the small treatment areas typically ascribed to laser treatments (for example, a particularly stubborn plaque of psoriasis on the elbow or knee).
Getting it DoneIt usually takes about 10 to 15 treatments with the excimer laser to achieve substantial improvement in a plaque of psoriasis. One major advantage of excimer laser treatment is that remission times are generally much longer than treatments relying on topical creams.
Various brands of excimer laser equipment are now on the market. Medicare and most private insurance carriers will cover this treatment for suitable patients. If you live in a larger city or suburb, it is very likely that a dermatologist near you offers this treatment.