Levulan Kerastick is used in combination with photodynamic therapy (PDT) to treat actinic keratosis.
Actinic keratosis is characterized by small crusty and scaly bumps or horns which develop on or under the skin resulting from excessive exposure to sunlight and may turn into skin cancer, especially affecting the face or scalp.
Aminolevulinic acid is a photosensitizing agent and PDT is a special blue light treatment. In order to treat actinic keratosis, blue light treatment is given following aminolevulinic acid application. Aminolevulinic acid gets activated by the blue light and it damages the cells of keratosis lesions. This medicine is available as kit, stick, and solution but only available with your doctor's prescription.
2 What to Know Before Using
Your doctor will inform you of what you need to know before using Levulan Kerastick.
If you are about to start a drug therapy, the risks and benefits ratio of taking the medicine should be considered. This is a decision that your doctor will make with your active participation.
For this medicine, certain factors such as present and past illness, drug interactions, metabolic impairments, hypersensitivity reactions, pregnancy, lactation etc. may alter the drug action. Thus, the use of aminolevulinic acid should be considered cautiously.
Presence of some medical problems like diabetes, mental illness, liver and/or kidney diseases may affect the desired plasma concentration as well as the duration of action of a drug.
Make sure you tell your doctor if you have had any allergic reaction to aminolevulinic acid, porphyrins, or any other medicines.
Animal studies have shown an adverse effect but there are no adequate studies in pregnancy and lactation. Hence, potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.
To use Levulan Kerastick properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor.
You should follow the doctor's directions and advices. The amount of medicine that you take should not exceed the maximum therapeutic dose. Also, the frequency of your daily drug administration and the duration of drug therapy depend on the severity of disease for which you are taking the medicine.
You can apply aminolevulinic acid to your skin at home but doctors may apply to the patients at clinic sometimes. Blue light illumination treatment is given with Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy illuminator in a healthcare professional’s office 14 to 18 hours after the application. The blue light treatment usually lasts approximately 17 minutes.
For example, if you have applied aminolevulinic acid in the late afternoon, you will need to receive the blue light treatment the next morning. Special goggles are given to the patients to protect eyes during the light treatment.
You should keep the treated area dry until you get the blue light treatment. Additionally, you should not put a bandage or dressing on the area.
The healthcare professional will examine you 8 weeks after aminolevulinic acid and PDT treatment to decide whether retreatment of the same skin area is needed or not. If skin condition does not resolve completely, your doctor may want to re-treat you.
You should store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature away from heat, moisture, and direct light. All kinds of medicines should be kept out of the reach of children. Outdated medicine must be disposed by an appropriate way.
4 Precautions to Take
Before using Levulan Kerastick, there are some precautions you must take.
Some important measures should be taken if you feel any discomfort following any drug therapy.
Firstly, you should stop using the drug and then consult with your physician immediately. Regular visits are recommended to make sure this medicine is working properly or not. Although aminolevulinic acid is well tolerated, its use is contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity. Skin sensitivity to light and porphyria may be worsened by aminolevulinic acid.
You should be on your normal diet unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Aminolevulinic acid makes skin very sensitive to sunlight likely to get sunburn. You should avoid exposure of treated skin to the direct sunlight or bright indoor light such as bright halogen lighting, tanning salons, close task lighting, high power lighting used in operating rooms or dental chambers etc. before exposure to blue light treatment.
You can protect treated skin from the direct sunlight by wearing a wide-brimmed hat or cap. Sunscreen is not able to protect you from sensitivity to sunlight. It is also recommended to protect skin from sunlight or other strong light for at least 40 hours.
Certain drugs should not be used concurrently with such medications. Thus, you should tell your doctor if you are receiving any drug.
Be sure to mention if you are taking or plan to take other drugs, especially antihistamines, diuretics, griseofulvin, tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline.
It is always recommended to consult with your doctor if you are in need of some drugs for another health problem.
5 Potential Side Effects
As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Levulan Kerastick.
There are some unwanted side-effects along with the desired effects of aminolevulinic acid. These side-effects usually go away during the treatment episode as your body adjusts to the medicine.
Additionally, your health care professional may demonstrate you about the ways how to prevent or reduce those unwanted side-effects.
Sometimes you may need to consult with the doctor if you feel any serious discomfort. The following side effects are reported in certain patients while undergoing therapy:
o burning, tingling, stinging, or prickling of lesions during blue light treatment. This should get better within 24 hours. o redness, swelling and scaling of treated actinic keratosis and surrounding skin. This condition should get better within 4 weeks.
o itching, numbness, darkening or lightening of treated skin, scaling, skin sore, swelling of skin etc.
Less common: blister, oozing, pain, pus filled pimple, bleeding etc. rarely occur.
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