What is Blue Light Acne Treatment?
“[Blue light treatment] is a major breakthrough and could be an excellent alternative for those patients who have had minimal success with traditional therapies…” — Dr. Arielle N.B. Kauva
Blue light acne treatment uses blue light to kill acne bacteria instead of topical or oral medications. Throughout the treatment, the skin is exposed to a blue light source for a short period of time ranging from only a few seconds up to 15 minutes depending on the product.
In-home treatments are recommended daily until acne is either cleared or under control, then the frequency is reduced to maintenance treatments twice to three times per week.
Risks & Benefits of Blue Light Therapy for Acne
- 100% natural and non-invasive
- drug-free with no adverse side effects, short or long term
- safe for all ages and safe for daily use
- great for back & body acne, too
- easily self-administered in your own home
- no down-time
- does not stop working over time
- may work on even antibiotic resistant strains of acne causing bacteria
The only significant risk of blue light therapy is the risk of overexposure of blue light to the eyes. For this reason, eye protection is provided free with almost every in-home acne light and should be worn during each treatment. Please read this article for a full discussion of possible safety concerns.
How Does Blue Light Work?
Blue light kills acne bacteria. How? When blue light strikes acne bacteria cells, it sets off a chemical reaction that causes the bacteria to self-destruct. No harm is done to any other cells on or in the skin. Here is the scientific explanation from the American Academy of Dermatology:
“[Blue] Light gets at the core of what causes acne eruptions: P. acnes, the bacterial responsible for causing acne inflammation, pumps out tiny molecules called porphyrins. When those porphyrin are exposed to certain wavelengths of light, they produce free radicals that kill the bacteria. Without P. acnes around to cause inflammation, acne clears up.” American Academy of Dermatology 2002
Blue light is one of the best acne treatments available today, because it kills acne bacteria naturally, fast, and without side effects. However, the combination of blue and red light is even better.
Frequently Asked Questions About Acne Light Therapy
What is light therapy?
What is blue light therapy?
What is red light therapy?
Is Light Therapy an Acne Cure?
Will acne light therapy work for me? What kind of results can I expect?
Will my acne get worse before it gets better?
Are there any side effects ore precautions?
Is light therapy good for back and body acne?
What about using ALA or Levulan? (PDT or Photodynamic Therapy.)
Can I use your acne light therapy products with other topical acne medications?
Can I use your acne light therapy products with other oral acne medications?
How to Find the Acne Light You Need at a Price You Can Afford
When it comes to choosing an acne light, you have two major decisions to make:
- Hand-held or table top?
- Blue and red light separately or together?
Here’s how you decide:
Hand Held or Table Top?
If you get one zit at a time now and then, you want a hand-held acne light.
If you have mild acne in one or two areas, a hand-held light would also be best for you.
If you have moderate to severe acne, you would benefit more from a table top light, because it will cover more of your face at once and keep your daily treatments to a reasonable amount of time.
If you have back acne, honestly, our lights are best for you, because they can easily reach your back.
Blue and red light separately, or together?
If you want to use light therapy for acne treatment only and just be done with it, get a light that puts out red and blue together. Combination blue and red acne lights are effective and convenient.
If you want “maximum strength” light therapy for acne treatment, or if you would like to use light therapy for more than just acne treatment, then you want blue and red light separately. That way the full power of each light is dedicated to one purpose.
For example, a lot of people want to use red light for anti-aging, in addition to acne treatment. The color you need for anti-aging is red. Blue light does nothing for anti-aging. So if you try to do an anti-aging treatment with a light that is half blue, you are wasting half the energy of the light, and really only getting half of the potential anti-aging treatment. If you have blue and red lights separately, then you have the full power of blue when you need an acne treatment, and the full power of red for anti-aging.
What Not to Buy
We used to maintain comparison charts of hand held and table top acne lights, but today there are simply too many on the market to make that practical. We’ll be writing some reviews of acne lights soon, but until then here’s a quick idea of what not to buy. Do not buy:
- Any product that is disposable. Light therapy should be a one-time investment.
- Any light that requires replacement heads. High quality products should not need to be frequently replaced.
- Any light that requires replacement batteries, like a flashlight. Recurring expenses don’t make sense.
- Any light that relies on any type of topical substance for its effectiveness. Light therapy works all by itself.
Research & Technical Details
Research Leading to FDA Approval of Blue Light for Acne Treatment
Almost every blue light for acne on the market today bases its marketing on this study, done at the Imperial College of London, and published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2000. Based on this research and similar studies, the first blue light acne treatment “system”, ClearLight, gained FDA approval in 2002. Here are the highlights:
- 107 patients with mild-moderate inflammatory acne (acne vulgaris) participated in the trial.
- The blue light peaked at 415nm, the red light peaked at 660nm (What does this mean?)
- Patients used the lights in-home for 15 minutes daily
- There was a 76% drop in visible acne over 12 weeks
- Combination Red and Blue light therapy was ‘significantly superior’ to blue light alone or benzoyl peroxide.
- Blue & Red light improve acne by combining anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory action.
- Red & Blue light phototherapy is a safe and effective treatment for acne vulgaris.
Click here to read the full study. Since then, many smaller studies have been done all over the world, all confirming the effectiveness and safety of blue and blue & red light acne treatment. Here are a few:
April 2006 – UCLA School of Medicine This open-label study suggests the therapeutic efficacy of high-intensity LED pure blue light in the treatment of acne vulgaris with no reported side effects. Read the full study »
October 2007 – Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea This study shows that red light phototherapy alone can be a new therapeutic option for acne vulgaris. Read the full study »
Research Supporting Red Light For Acne
Red light phototherapy alone is effective for acne vulgaris: randomized, single-blinded clinical trial. 2007 Oct; 33(10):1228-33; discussion 1233. “The percent improvement in noninflammatory and inflammatory lesion counts of the treated side was significant compared to the control side (p<.005). VAS decreased from 3.9 to 1.9 on the treatment side and the difference between the treatment and control sides was significant at Week 8.” Read the full study @ PubMed.gov »
Phototherapy with blue (415 nm) and red (660 nm) light in the treatment of acne vulgaris. 2000 May; 142(5):973-8. “Assessments were performed every 4 weeks. After 12 weeks of active treatment a mean improvement of 76% (95% confidence interval 66-87) in inflammatory lesions was achieved by the combined blue-red light phototherapy; this was significantly superior to that achieved by blue light (at weeks 4 and 8 but not week 12)” Read more @ PubMed.gov »