The Progress and Promise of Photodermatology

Photodermatology has become a key tool for dermatologists in treating numerous conditions using ultraviolet (UV) and visible light. At the 2012 American Academy of Dermatology Summer Meeting, Henry W. Lim, MD, the chairman of dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital spoke of new research findings on photons, and discussed both the dangers of light and its potential to help diagnose and treat in his presentation “What is the Future of Photodermatology?”

According to Dr. Lim, photodermatology is involved in the diagnosis and treatment of six of the nine most common conditions that result in visits to the dermatologist. The use of UV light has increased in the treatment of psoriasis, mycosis fungoides, vitiligo, morphea, actinic keratosis, and superficial basal cell carcinoma.  There is also a growth in the use of lasers to treat conditions ranging from vascular lesions to tattoo scars.

Dr. Lim stated that there is still more to understand about the pathophysiology of various photodermatoses. “If we can identify biomarkers in the serum that could predict a response, then we have made a significant advance towards developing personalized medicine.”

New areas of research include the role of photons in light-activated sutureless tissue bonding, wound healing, and healing of corneal lesions. Raman spectroscopy, a noninvasive technique, is also being investigated to see if it can differentiate benign skin lesions from malignant ones.

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