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Red light treatment is a hit here at Truth In Aging, helping decrease wrinkles and age spots but there is also a blue light treatment that has been in the shadows for some time. Blue light has been widely reported to help when it comes to acne, here is how it works.
Light therapy has been used in plants for years but researchers began to realize that it worked wonders on the skin. It was found to encourage cellular metabolism, accelerate the repair and replenishment of damaged cells, and aid in the production of collagen. Light therapy took off in the 1980’s and is still widely used today, having shown strong efficacy for the treatment of inflammatory acne, rosacea, wrinkles, sun damage, and uneven skin tone.
When it comes to the treatment itself, blue light is the same as red in that it is non-invasive, drug free, painless, and you can essentially do it on your own.
It helps fight acne due to blue light wavelengths that penetrate the skin and produce singlet oxygen which can destroy acne-causing bacteria. Once the blue light treatment is delivered, this light energy is absorbed by the targeted bacteria that produce the inflammation associated with acne known as propionibacterium acne's, or "P. acne's". P. acne's releases porphyrins, which are naturally occurring molecules in the body. When porphyrins absorb certain wavelengths of light, free radical damage is produced which destroys the bacteria. Without P. acne's around to cause inflammation, acne is reduced. This isn’t just snake oil, the FDA approved narrow-band, high intensity blue light for treating acne.
It sounds great but you must be wondering if there’s any proof aside from product testimonials. Well, there have been several studies that back it up.
The Dermatology Times reported in 2006 about the benefits of using blue light to fight acne. A study had males and females older than 16 years of age who had at least 20 noninflammatory lesions and at least 20 inflammatory lesions. The subjects received either vehicle treatment or ALA (a medication that increases sensitivity to light) and were subjected to blue light treatments for 15, 60, or 120 minutes. A total of six different groups were created due to these variables. The results after 8 weeks showed that for moderate acne, blue light given for about 15 minutes could help reduce acne. The topical pretreatment was photoactivated by the blue light which was believed to help treat the acne. According to Diane S. Berson, M.D, “Photodynamic therapy is a potentially exciting new treatment option for acne, and we can expect that future studies may evaluate other light sources."
However, studies have also shown that light therapy on it's own can be effective.
In another study in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Otavio Roberti Macedo, M.D conducted a study with 33 patients (25 women/8 men, ages 16-35) who had inflammatory acne with no prior treatment. Seventy percent of the patients had mild acne, which was defined as "microdones" and small papules, and 30 percent had moderate acne.
All patients underwent eight 20-minute sessions with blue-light phototherapy, which were done twice weekly for four weeks.
After the blue light phototherapy, researchers determined that eight patients had good results, 22 had regular results, and three had bad results. While those who had regular results improved with the phototherapy, they still had lesions that required treatment after eight sessions of phototherapy.
Skin lesions were down 50 percent after three weeks and 60 percent after five. A very substantial amount given the small time frame and invasive form of treatment.
Macedo says "I was surprised because it is a therapy without oral medications with good results.” He also noted that it could be used as an alternative for people with moderate acne.
Both of these studies show positive results when it comes to using blue light to fight moderate acne. By using it in conjunction with classic acne treatments such as retinoic acid, benzoyl peroxide, tazarotene and salicylic acid, individuals may be able to see better results under the guidance of a dermatologist.
Unfortunately, results didn’t seem to change when it came to fighting bad acne. But one can’t deny the promise that this type of treatment on its own seems to hold. Traditional serums and acids can irritate skin and leave it dry and blistered so it’s good to see a more natural way to fight acne on the market. Blue light has also been shown to improve mood. As Marta noted previously, her red light treatment helped improve her mood a bit. In a study, blue light seemed to stimulate and strengthen connections between areas of the brain involved in processing emotion and language which could help improve mood in the long run.
The final verdict is that blue light is a potential way to fight mild to moderate acne with no adverse side effects but results do vary from person to person. Also, they don’t happen after one treatment, these take several sessions to see results, normally lasting 15-20 minutes each. If you are interested in buying a model for home use, the potential benefits are definitely there. However, if you have severe acne, consider meeting with a dermatologist before buying a blue light at home system.