Background The use of lasers is very common in dermatology; however, many patients fear it and have various misconceptions about it. A literature search failed to show any studies on this topic.
Objective To explore the various misconceptions of patients about lasers in dermatology.
Methods A self-administered questionnaire containing 21 questions about laser use in dermatology was distributed randomly to patients attending the dermatology clinic at King Khalid University Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from February to April 2009.
Results The response rate was 79.3%, with 714 of the 900 distributed questionnaires being returned; the individuals sampled included 348 men (48.73%). When asked about the nature of laser, 40% (279 of 698) reported that they did not know. About 36% (251 of 698) knew it was radiation of stimulated light amplification, while 10.2% (71 of 698) reported it to be nuclear radiation. Among study participants, 51.5% (364 of 707) believed that laser was harmful to children, while 51.1% (357 of 699) believed it was unsafe during pregnancy, and 21.4% (146 of 683) thought it could cause skin cancer. Laser was believed to treat most skin diseases by 47.7% (330 of 692) of those interviewed, among whom 24.1% said that they would not accept laser treatment if it was suggested to them by a dermatologist. A stance against laser (16.3%) was most common among men (P < 0.001), the illiterate (P = 0.006), and those with lower education (P = 0.001).
Conclusion Various misconceptions about laser treatment among patients are prevalent, especially among less educated individuals. Educating the community about laser could solve this problem.