Skin Hydration, a simple but often overlooked assessment in preventing complications after laser treatments. We are all accustom to screening for sun exposure, use of topical agents, and medication history prior to administering a laser treatment. But we often overlook assessing for skin hydration. Lasers target specific cromophores (Melanin, Hemoglobin, and water) and deposit heat energy. Dehydrated skin will respond very differently to a set energy level than hydrated skin. As skin tolerance is reduced likelihood of prolonged redness, small burns, and infection increase.
Conduct a simple physical assessment focused on temperature turgor and moisture level; take a quick patient history of hydration status including level of alcohol and caffeine intake. And finally, if you have a Wood’s lamp handy a quick view will provide a confirmation of your assessment.
If you find the patient is dehydrated be conservative with your energy settings. Dehydrated skin will be more sensitive and healing time will increase. Pay special attention to ablative lasers that primarily target water, you may even consider postponing their treatment until their skin hydration improves.
Educate your patient on hydration health, products to improve transepidermal water loss (TEWL), use of humidifiers in the home, etc. Their skin will thank you as and their outcomes will be more predictable and effective.