What to Consider Before Laser Treatment for Eczema

Insurance may require you to prove it's medically necessary

Eczema, a group of conditions that cause itchy and dry skin, rashes, and scaly patches, can be difficult to treat, and about 55% of people with the condition can't control their symptoms. When lifestyle changes and medications fail, you may look toward laser treatment for eczema, which is sometimes effective when other treatments aren’t.

This article will explain laser treatment for eczema, including what to expect, why UV light for eczema is beneficial, and how to handle insurance claims. 

Doctor using laser on patient's leg.

CasarsaGuru / Getty Images

What Happens During Laser Treatment for Eczema

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is a treatment for eczema. It's most commonly used in people who haven’t responded to first-line treatments like lifestyle changes and medication.

Light therapy exposes the body to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light reduces inflammation in the skin, which can reduce eczema symptoms for some patients.

Laser treatment for eczema is a specific kind of light therapy. It is most often delivered with a tool called an excimer laser. This is a wand-like instrument that’s been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating skin conditions including eczema. The excimer laser delivers a targeted band of UV light to treat eczema.

Phototherapy vs. Laser Treatment for Eczema

Phototherapy and the excimer laser both treat eczema with UV rays. Phototherapy provides light therapy over larger areas of skin, whereas the laser provides targeted treatment of specific areas.

What to Expect

Most patients undergo a course of laser treatments for eczema. Your healthcare provider will let you know what they recommend for your specific case. Most often, people get treatments twice a week for a few months. The sessions are very short, usually lasting less than 10–15 minutes. The excimer laser doesn’t hurt, so you don’t have to worry about being uncomfortable during sessions.

Treatment for Eczema Scars

Many people want treatment for eczema scars. Sometimes, these scars present as areas of skin that are darker or lighter than the surrounding skin. Laser therapy, including the excimer laser, can help correct darker- or lighter-pigmented skin. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether laser treatment for eczema scars might work for you. 

Safety Considerations 

The excimer laser is considered safe. It can be used on any area of the body, including the face, and can be administered to children as well as adults.

However, as with most medical treatments, there are side effects to be aware of. Compared with other forms of phototherapy, the excimer laser may result in fewer side effects, since the treatment is concentrated to small areas. Still, you may experience side effects like:

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Burning
  • Dryness
  • Changes to skin pigmentation 
  • Blistering
  • Scarring

UV rays can cause skin damage that leads to skin cancer. However, research has shown that the excimer laser does not increase risk for skin cancer. This is likely because the UV rays are delivered to only symptomatic areas, leaving healthy skin untouched.

Regression of Eczema Symptoms After Excimer Treatment

Eczema is a chronic condition that has no cure. Although many people experience relief from their symptoms after excimer treatments, laser treatments won’t always result in long-term relief. Interestingly, research shows that treatments with the excimer laser can change your skin microbiome, resulting in lasting relief of symptoms.

If you experience a recurrence of symptoms after treatment, talk with your healthcare provider. They may recommend additional laser treatments. 

Do You Need a Referral?

If you have eczema, it’s important to work with a dermatologist, a medical doctor who's a skin specialist. These doctors will either deliver your laser treatment, or refer you to a skin care facility that provides laser treatment for eczema. 

Making a Case for Insurance Coverage

Sometimes, getting insurance to cover eczema treatments can be difficult. Laser therapy can be expensive. However, following certain steps might make it easier for you to have your treatments covered.

Before getting laser treatments, speak with your insurance company. If they require it, seek prior authorization. This is a process in which your doctor fills out information about your health history and why you need the treatment in question. The insurance company either agrees to cover the treatment or declines the request. If it declines your request, you have a right to appeal that decision.

It can be helpful to show that other treatments haven’t worked. Insurance companies often steer patients toward more affordable treatments. Showing that you’ve tried these without success can build your case for insurance coverage for laser treatment and other more expensive options. 

Patient Costs

Laser treatments for eczema can cost thousands of dollars. Even with insurance, people with eczema spend an average of $600 a year out-of-pocket for the cost of treatments. For 8.5% of people with eczema, the annual out-of-pocket cost for treatment is $5,000 or more.

Summary

Laser treatment for eczema uses a wand called an excimer laser to provide targeted treatment to symptomatic areas of skin. Laser treatment is popular because it’s painless, safe, and often effective for people who haven’t responded to other treatments. However, it’s expensive, and sometimes not covered by insurance. 

A Word From Verywell 

Having to consider the finances of treatment options before getting care can be disheartening. Talk with your healthcare provider about strategies for getting laser treatment covered by insurance. Always talk with your insurance company and provider about all costs of treatment before you decide to move ahead with it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does UV light get rid of eczema completely?

    For some patients, UV light can get rid of eczema completely. However, there’s no cure for eczema, and you may experience a recurrence of symptoms in the future. 

  • What’s the link between vitamin D and eczema?

    There’s some evidence that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to eczema. However, phototherapy works not due to vitamin D, but because UV rays reduce the inflammatory response on the skin. 

  • Can you get laser hair removal with eczema?

    Yes, people with eczema can get laser hair removal. Talk with your healthcare provider about whether this is a fit for you.

14 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.