While lasers have been used for many years to treat skin problems like acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, research is showing that non-laser lights provide similar benefits without the downtime, expense or pain. LED light therapy for acne is being used increasingly as an alternative to the more-expensive laser treatments.
For treatment of inflamed acne and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (redness left behind after a breakout), blue light is primarily used. Blue light is a spectrum of light (wavelength of 415 nanometers) that is used to treat acne-related skin conditions and researchers are discovering many other health benefits of LED Light Therapy such as pain relief.
In treating skin conditions, blue light therapy is effective with those areas on, or just underneath, the surface of the skin. LED Light Therapy for acne is very safe with no risk of side effects.
Blue light therapy for acne has a natural photodynamic therapy (PDT) effect. In some cases, high-intensity blue light is combined with a photosynthesizing (light-sensitive) drug. The light source activates the drug, producing a form of oxygen that kills nearby cells.
Blue Light Therapy for Acne
A number of conditions can be treated with blue light therapy, including:
Blue light therapy has shown real success in treating inflamed acne (cystic acne, acne vulgaris, pustular and hormonal acne) that is moderate or severe and has not responded to other therapies. Blue light is able to penetrate the skin’s hair follicles and pores which harbor bacteria that cause inflammation, and therefore cause acne.
Blue light treatment benefits include:
- Kills acne bacteria
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces pain associated with acne
- Speeds up healing time of inflamed acne
- Reduces redness
The blue light’s natural photodynamic effect works by killing the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes, or P. acnes, on the skin. When the bacteria can no longer feed on the oil glands, the redness and inflammation start to dissipate.
While blue light therapy is highly effective, it is best used along with an acne skincare regimen. At Natural Acne Clinic, blue light therapy is used in conjunction with our 3-month Acne Program.
Blue light therapy for acne can even be used to remove scars that were originally caused by acne.
The FDA has approved blue light therapy in-home devices for treatment of acne. However, experts agree that at-home blue light treatments are best for mild to moderate acne—not severe cystic or scarring acne.
These devices are also not effective against blackheads, whiteheads or nodules, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
The red/brown marks left behind after an inflamed acne breakout are a form of hyperpigmentation, not scarring as many people believe. This discolored skin (called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) is caused by the trauma to the affected area or by picking the skin.
The good news is, with proper treatment, this hyperpigmentation will completely fade away. Without using treatments such as LED Light Therapy, this process can take years. However, with LED Light Therapy or Intense Pulsed Light treatments along with using topical skin lighteners at home, hyperpigmentation can fade within 2-4 months.
Blue light therapy has been found to reduce the discoloration within 6-12 weekly treatments.
What to expect
On the day of your blue light treatment, your Acne Specialist will escort you to a darkened room. You will wear goggles to protect your eyes; then the light will be applied to the full face.
Treatment sessions can take 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the treated area and if an Acne Peel is done prior.
The LED Light device does not actually touch your skin, rather, the device sits about 8-10 inches over the face and feels slightly warm. Most clients dose off during their treatment.
After your blue light procedure, you can immediately return to normal activities with no downtime.
Some inflammation and redness may be noticeable following the procedure, although this is very temporary. Follow your doctor’s advice regarding makeup on the treated area.
Advantages of blue light therapy
Blue light therapy is considered:
- safe and gentle
- appropriate for all areas of the body
How effective is blue light therapy?
Blue light therapy for acne is an effective treatment for skin conditions when the client carefully follows the treatment plan, with follow-up maintenance appointments. At Natural Acne Clinic, the blue led light is used in conjunction with our 3-month Acne Program which starts with a Holistic Acne Consultation.
For example, a treatment plan generally involves:
- 4-6 treatments for mild to moderate active inflamed acne, with maintenance appointments every six months.
- 8-12 treatments for severe or stubborn active inflamed acne
- 6-8 treatments for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
Downtime and Side Effects
Blue light therapy alone has no downtime and has no side effects.
At-home blue light therapy
While a growing number of blue light products are available for home treatment, they are less effective than the more powerful blue light devices used in clinics. The home devices are easy and safe, but typically work best with mild cases of acne — and require more treatments than are necessary with a professional protocol.