• photodynamic therapy;
  • aminolevulinic acid;
  • skin cancer;
  • inflammatory dermatoses


Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is used for the prevention and treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer. Until recently, clinically approved indications have been restricted to actinic keratoses, nodular and superficial basal cell carcinoma, and – since 2006 – Bowen disease. However, the range of indications has been expanding continuously. PDT is also used for the treatment of non-malignant conditions such as acne vulgaris and leishmaniasis, as well as for treating premature skin aging due to sun exposure. Here, PDT is used for the stimulation of immunomodulatory effects in contrast to the induction of necrosis and apoptosis as produced in the treatment of skin tumors. The porphyrin precursor 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) or its methyl ester (MAL, so far the only approved formulation in Europe) is applied topically as photosensitizer to exclude systemic reactions. Possible light sources include lasers as well as incoherent light sources; irradiation with incoherent light sources is cheaper and more appropriate for large treatment areas. The main advantages of PDT in comparison to other treatment modalities are its excellent cosmetic results and its high remission rates despite low invasiveness.This article provides up-to-date information about PDT with focus on recently published studies.