Many options exist for treating psoriasis, a chronic skin disease characterized by thick, discolored skin lesions called plaques. One promising treatment, called excimer laser treatment, uses light therapy to clear up psoriasis plaques. XTRAC is one of the best-known brands of excimer laser equipment.
Psoriasis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation and the accelerated production of skin cells. Skin builds up more quickly than it can shed, causing patches of thickened, scaly skin that can crack, bleed, and itch. Light therapy is commonly used to treat psoriasis, either alone or along with medications. Also called phototherapy, light therapy involves exposing the skin to controlled amounts of natural or artificial light.
Excimer laser therapy is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating plaque psoriasis. Dermatologists use this small, handheld device in their office to treat people with psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo.
Excimer lasers such as the XTRAC laser work by emitting a high-intensity beam of ultraviolet B (UVB) light. These lasers use a specific UVB light wavelength, 308 nanometers, and target only the psoriatic skin, not the healthy skin. The laser works by killing cells that contribute to the buildup of plaques.
The American Academy of Dermatology generally recommends excimer laser treatment two to three times per week. Generally, an average of 10 treatments can help clear psoriasis lesions. Your doctor may recommend a different dosage depending on your plaque severity and location.
Excimer laser therapy is very effective at treating psoriasis. A study of 120 people with psoriasis found that about 85 percent achieved at least a 90-percent improvement after seven to 13 laser treatments. Nearly 57 percent of people with psoriasis of the palms and soles (palmoplantar plaque psoriasis) saw complete clearance with laser therapy.
Excimer lasers like the XTRAC are also commonly used along with topical steroids. Combination therapy with steroids is often more effective than phototherapy or steroids alone.
The XTRAC and other excimer lasers can be used to treat mild, moderate, and severe psoriasis. These devices are most helpful when used on psoriasis plaques that are localized, or limited to a smaller body area. Research shows that laser therapy is very effective for treating scalp psoriasis. It is also beneficial for hard-to-treat areas like the palms and soles of the feet.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, excimer laser treatment can be used to treat psoriasis in both children and adults. The treatment may be particularly useful for people who cannot use other medications due to potential health effects or whose psoriasis hasn’t responded to other therapies.
Dermatologists may not recommend XTRAC or other excimer laser treatment for individuals with a history of skin cancer.
XTRAC laser treatment allows for targeted treatment of small areas. A targeted approach has several advantages over other types of phototherapy, including:
Although XTRAC and other excimer lasers are generally safe, they can cause several minor side effects. These side effects are usually short-lived. Compared to systemic treatments like pills and injections, excimer laser therapy is safer and has fewer potential side effects.
Possible side effects of excimer laser treatment include:
Finding the right psoriasis treatment can be challenging. Some members of MyPsoriasisTeam have shared how laser therapy has helped them achieve healthy skin. “I had a large spot on my right leg that had a really thick plaque. The laser has gotten rid of the plaque, and now the affected area has started to disappear. My skin color is coming back,” wrote one member.
Another member wrote, “I am receiving XTRAC treatment, and it is helping so much.” A third member noted, “XTRAC Laser treatments for my psoriasis are going great.”
MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 90,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.
Have you used XTRAC laser treatments, or are you thinking about trying laser therapy for your psoriasis? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.