Blue Light Therapy for Acne
Acne is a chronic condition which can range from small number of whiteheads occassionally to a severe case of cystic nodules peppered with whiteheads and blackheads. There are a variety of different treatment modalities from oral and topical antibiotics, to cleaning regimens, reducing triggers and light therapy.
The goal behind most therapy is to reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin, balance oil production, exfoliate dead skin and reduce the inflammatory response on the skin. Light therapy, more specifically blue light, can be used to help kill the bacteria on the surface of the skin.
Light therapy can be done at the dermatologist’s office or using a self-applied light at home. Researchers tested an at home product to determine the length of time individuals noticed improvements, the number of new blemishes that occurred and how easy it was for the patients to use the device. The study was performed over an 8-week period using 21 people. Researchers found that the number of blackheads and whiteheads reduced significantly in a 28 day period but the light therapy didn’t have significant impact on the treatment of pustules. The test subjects reported that the product was easy to use and they considered it effective. (1)
Light therapy can also help to reduce the amount of excess oil produced on the skin by damaging the oil glands on the skin. Side effects of using light therapy usually includes some redness, swelling and possible skin discoloration which can clear within hours for the redness and swelling and up to 3 months for the skin discoloration. You must limit your exposure to the sun for 3 days following the procedure and multiple sessions may be necessary to get the results you are looking for.
However, the at-home machines often are not as strong and therefore don’t have the side effects of the treatments in the doctor’s office. Only people with sensitive skin will experience some slight irritation and redness. The devices at home can cost between 150 and $350 and require daily or twice daily treatment times at home.
(1) Journal of Clinical and Aestetic Dermatology: Clinical Efficacy of Self-Applied Blue Light tehrapy for mild-to-moderate facial acne
Acne: Red/Blue Light
MayoClinic: Medical Procedures may help clear skin
Go Ask Alice: Blue light therapy for acne
DermNet NZ: Blue Light Acne Treatment