BACKGROUND. After full-face laser resurfacing of the face, patients often complain of pruritus, which may be intense. It has been suggested that some cases of postresurfacing pruritus may be associated with subclinical fungal infection. OBJECTIVE. To determine whether intense pruritus after laser resurfacing of the face is correlated with simultaneous fungal growth of the treated skin. METHODS. Twelve adult female patients undergoing combined full-face laser resurfacing with CO2 and erbium:YAG lasers for chronic photodamage or acne scarring were enrolled in a prospective study. Fungal cultures were obtained by swabbing the facial skin of each patient immediately before, 3 days after, and 6 days after the laser procedure. At the same points in time, investigators completed objective assessments of the patients' facial skin, and patients reported the sensations that they were experiencing. RESULTS. Six patients (50%) complained of significant pruritus (3 or greater on a scale of 0 to 5). In four of the six cases (67%), at least one of the three fungal cultures obtained grew fungal organisms, including Candida albicans (2 cultures), Candida parapsilosis, Aureobasidium pullulans, and Fusarium species. In no instances did culture positivity occur in the absence of significant pruritus. A statistically significant relationship (P = 0.0143) was found to exist between at least one of the three cultures being positive and the emergence of significant posttreatment pruritus. Physician ratings of clinical signs did not correlate with patient reports of pruritus, other symptoms, or culture positivity. CONCLUSION. Colonization or subclinical infection with fungi, particularly Candida spp., may be associated with significant postlaser resurfacing pruritus. Antifungal prophylaxis may mitigate this discomfort. Further research is required to confirm and expand these results.
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