Laser Treatment for Eczema NYC New York NY

Laser therapy that delivers a concentrated beam of ultraviolet light may help ease a hard-to-treat form of eczema, a small study suggests.

The study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, compared the effects of laser therapy versus corticosteroid ointment in 13 patients with what is known as the prurigo form of atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema, or skin inflammation, that arises from an allergic reaction; the prurigo form is marked by small, hard, intensely itchy nodules on the skin.

Specifically, a device called the 308-nm excimer laser is approved in the U.S. for treating atopic dermatitis and certain other skin conditions, including psoriasis and vitiligo. It works by emitting a concentrated beam of ultraviolet B (UVB) light directly to patches of affected skin, avoiding the healthy surrounding skin.

UVB light has long been used to treat some cases of atopic dermatitis; it is thought to help by quelling the exaggerated immune response causing the skin inflammation. The purported advantage of the excimer laser over traditional UVB therapy is that it more precisely targets the problem areas of the skin.

However, there are only limited study data on the effectiveness of the laser therapy for atopic dermatitis, and almost nothing known about how it works for the prurigo form.

Over 10 weeks, the patients received twice-weekly laser treatments on one side of the body, and used prescription corticosteroid ointment -- clobetasol propionate -- on the other side of the body. Both the laser treatment and the ointment were applied directly to the prurigo nodules.

By the end of the treatment period, the study found, both therapies were similarly effective in reducing the number of skin nodules, inflammation and itchiness. All but one patient showed improvements; for three patients, the laser-treated side of the body showed greater improvements, while for four, the corticosteroid-treated side fared better.

However, the benefits of the laser tended to be longer lasting. Six months after treatment, eight patients had maintained a significant improvement on the laser-treated side, while only three showed similar results on the corticosteroid-treated side.

Topical corticosteroids have an obvious advantage in that they are inexpensive and convenient. But for people whose skin condition does not improve with topical treatment, Brenninkmeijer said, "the excimer laser might be a good alternative."

The potential short-term risks of the laser therapy include burns (similar to a sunburn), blistering and skin darkening. Little is known about the possible long-term side effects, including whether there is any increase in skin cancer risk,