Excimer Laser Treatment for Psoriasis

Could laser treatment for psoriasis be the answer to finding relief for those dry, itchy patches? If you have stubborn psoriasis, you've probably already tried medicated creams, oral medications, and light therapy. Here's what you should know about excimer laser treatment and how to seek it out.

Psoriasis on a woman's skin.


What Is Phototherapy?

Phototherapy 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.

Although 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.

Treating Small Spots With Lasers

What if you just have a few very stubborn plaques of psoriasis? Can you spot treat areas with ultraviolet light? That's where 308-nm excimer lasers come in. This type of laser is specially designed to produce ultraviolet radiation at a very specific wavelength of ultraviolet light—308 nanometers—that is highly effective in treating psoriasis.

A nearly identical wavelength of light, 311 nanometers, referred to as narrow band-UVB (NB-UVB), is only available using special fluorescent light bulbs in the aforementioned cabinets or booths. Excimer lasers provide the benefits of NB-UVB but can be used on smaller treatment areas, such as the elbow or knee, for particularly stubborn plaques of psoriasis.


Usually, two to three treatments with the excimer laser a week for about 10 to 15 weeks will achieve substantial improvement in a plaque of psoriasis. Each session takes only a few minutes. One major advantage of excimer laser treatment is that remission times are generally much longer than treatments relying on topical creams.

Is Laser Treatment Right for You?

Various brands of excimer laser equipment are now on the market. Medicare and most private insurance carriers will cover this treatment for suitable patients. The treatment is not suitable for all cases of psoriasis, so discuss the option with your dermatologist. Some people have reported side effects after treatment including: temporary redness, itching, burning, stinging, blistering, purple-colored spots on the skin, darkening or lightening of the skin, and scarring. More research is needed to determine if the exposure UVB light from the laser would increase the risk for skin cancer.

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  • Asawanonda, P., Anderson, R. R., Chang, Y., & Taylor, C. R. (2000). 308-nm Excimer Laser for the Treatment of Psoriasis. Arch Dermatol Archives of Dermatology, 136(5).

By Dean Goodless, MD
 Dean R. Goodless, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist specializing in psoriasis.