Light therapy consists of exposing the skin to specific wavelengths of light. There are three main types of light therapy.
Blue light therapy functions as an absorber—there to absorb the bacteria produced by the skin. It kills P. acnes, and treats acne vulgaris most effectively. These blue lights do not contain ultraviolet (UV) light, which was what was formerly used in therapy to treat acne. People undergo blue light therapy periodically. Typically, an individual will have 2 sessions for 4 consecutive weeks, each session lasting only 15 minutes. Side affects include mild swelling and dryness.
Pulsed light and heat energy therapy, also known as LHE, combines light and heat to destroy acne-causing bacteria. LHE also shrinks sebaceous glands and decreases sebum (oil) production in the skin. Side effects include temporary redness in treated areas. Similar to blue light therapy, patients will undergo 8 sessions over a period of 4 weeks. LHE is effective and safe for treating acne vulgaris, most commonly known as red pimples, whiteheads and blackheads.
ALA and light therapy involves two steps—first, an application of 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA)) to the skin for 60 minutes; lastly, removing the ALA and treating the skin with light therapy. Researchers have shown that patients who receive multiple treatments of ALA and light therapy show significant acne reduction. Side effects include temporary darkening of the skin and inflammation of hair follicles.
Again, light therapy treatment for acne is a serious procedure and should only considered when topical and oral treatments don’t respond. Please talk to your doctor about the possibility of light therapy treatments.