Use of Light Therapy in Acne Treatment

Light therapy has become exceedingly popular choice for acne treatment among dermatologists. This modern therapy has already made its niche among the skin care treatments which are meant to bestow on people with a healthy flawless acne free skin.

In spite of a range of over-the-counter or prescribed medications available for treating acne blemishes, many people have failed to respond to any of them effectively without developing any major or minor side effects. Therefore, from decades scientists were in search of some novel therapeutic method which would be safe, free from side effects, and all the more would provide a quick relief from this tormenting skin disorder. Light therapy for acne treatment is a major achievement in this endeavor, which is not only a secure modality of treatment but also an efficient methodology to treat mild to moderate inflammatory acne lesions.

What is It?

Light treatment or otherwise also known as phototherapy involves a procedure where the patient is exposed to a light radiation of specific frequency by making use of fluorescent and dichroic lamps, full-spectrum light, or lasers for a specific time frame. In recent times a high-intensity blue-light radiation with a narrow-band width, also known as blue light therapy, has been developed by researchers, which is found to be immensely beneficial to treat array of skin disorders including dark spots, mild to moderate acne, and rosacea. This miraculous discovery is approved by FDA in 2002 and perhaps it is the most widely prescribed and best-known light therapy for acne at present day.

How does It Work?

It is well known that common acne, or acne vulgaris, is caused due to the entrapped sebum (body oil) inside hair follicles beneath the skin surface. Propionibacterium acnes, the acne-causing bacteria, get into the pore and proliferate in the trapped oil. Due to bacterial infection the pore becomes inflamed and swelled up and this results into acne pimple.

The blue light radiation when applied to skin surface it penetrates into the blocked pores beneath epidermal layer. Inside the pores P. acnes bacteria pumps out minute molecules called porphyrin. These porphyrins when get exposed to blue light radiation produce free radicals. These free radicals in turn invade P. acnes bacteria and abolish them root and branch. As soon as you get free from bacteria, the inflammation inside acne lesions subsides and eventually the red tiny pimples are cleared up.

Treatment Regimen

The armamentarium for acne light therapy includes a low intensity blue light source which is used to treat mild to moderate acne pimples. Patients are exposed to the light source for around 15 minutes per session. Dermatologists conduct two sessions per week and as per FDA’s direction four weeks of treatment is usually sufficient for an individual. First FDA approved therapeutic system, ClearLight, could be available through proper consultation with your dermatologist. The full course of treatment costs around $800.

New Developments

Use of light source for acne treatment has developed further in recent years and new methodologies are taking birth in this new era. A few of them are as follows:

1. Blue and Red Light Therapy: It has been found that a combination of blue and red light is much more effective in treating acne vulgaris. Report said that inclusion of red light alleviates the skin 200% faster than earlier method. Therefore a combination of bactericide blue light and skin healer red light has proven to be a powerful acne treatment procedure. The benefits of this therapy are:

  • These are noninvasive and natural
  • Painless, safe, and free from side effects
  • They could be used at the comfort of your own house

2. Pulsed Light and Heat Energy Therapy: This light therapy involves the combined pulses of light and heat energy (LHE) which is believed to aim two major causal factors behind acne lesions: P. acnes bacteria and excess sebum secretion. This combined therapy destroys the growth of bacteria and reduces the excess discharge of sebum by constricting sebaceous glands. FDA has approved a system of pulsed LHE constituting heat energy and green light radiation for treating mild to moderate acne condition.

3. Light Treatment Using ALA: In this two-step light therapy, a solution of 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) is dabbed over the acne affected area and after a period of 15 to 20 minutes ALA is removed and the photosensitized skin area is exposed to blue light radiation. Blue light radiation works more effectively at this stage as ALA renders the whole acne stricken area into a more photosensitive zone.

Being at its budding stage there are still a lot of factors associated with this therapy which have not been investigated yet. Undoubtedly, with the advancement of technology and enduring effort of veteran scientists, light therapy in the long run would be light years ahead of all other acne treatment measures and would stand the test of time.

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