Red Led Light Therapy for Acne
Acne, like a lot of other skin conditions, can be incredibly persistent. Most people who suffer from acne try out many different acne treatments with little or no results.
Acne, especially facial acne, can affect a person's sense of self-esteem, and that problem only worsens when it's long-lasting. Sometimes, it can even contribute to social anxiety and depression.
Finding the right therapy for acne can be a challenging process of trial and error. However, light therapy could be a shortcut on this journey.
What Is Acne?
Acne is a skin condition which happens when pores and hair follicles in the skin get clogged by sebum, dead skin cells and oil. It presents in the form of comedones, pustules, cysts and papules. All of these acne lesions are commonly known as pimples.
Not only does acne affect a person's appearance, but even a moderate case can be quite painful and unpleasant.
Unfortunately, acne is incredibly common, especially among teens and younger adults, although they can often last well into adulthood and even appear later on in life. As much as 85 percent of teens and young adults experience at least mild to moderate acne, and some suffer from more severe cases.
People usually try to treat mild to moderate acne with over the counter cosmetic products, but more severe acne outbreaks are often treated at the dermatologist's office.
What Causes Acne?
To understand what causes acne, we must first understand what it actually is. Under the surface of the skin, everyone has hair follicles, as well as glands that produce sweat and oil. The products of these sweat and oil glands have to reach the surface, and they do so through tiny openings in the skin called pores.
Acne vulgaris is caused by an inflammation and blockage of the hair follicles and their pores. This can happen due to hormonal changes, bacterial infections, skin care products, or certain medications. Acne can also be hereditary. If they run in your family, chances of you getting them are higher as well.
Acne typically appears on the face and the upper portion of the body, such as back, shoulders and chest.
Acne vulgaris is not the only type of acne that exists. Fungal acne, for instance, is caused by a fungal infection of the hair follicles, and acne cosmetica are comedones that occur in reaction to cosmetic products.
Does Light Therapy for Acne Actually Work?
In recent years, LED light therapy has been one of the go-to treatments for various skin conditions, including acne.
There are several types of LED light therapy used to treat acne and other skin conditions. The devices used for these treatments have LED light lamps which emit light of a certain wavelength. This light penetrates the skin and provides acne treatment where it's really needed - at the hair follicle.
Inflammatory acne lesions can see a big improvement from light therapy. This is because light therapy penetrates the skin and targets the problem areas.
Blue light therapy for acne usually relies on neutralizing acne causing bacteria.
However, red light acne treatment is just as effective because it targets other aspects of acne breakouts.
Red light works by targeting several issues at the same time. One of its most effective mechanisms are its anti inflammatory benefits and the boost it provides to the blood circulation. This ensures better oxygenation and drainage of the tissue. Both of these lead to a significant improvement when it comes to acne related inflammatory lesions. As inflammation goes down, so does the swelling and the pain.
While the blue light can destroy acne causing bacteria, red light supports the immune system, and empowers the body to kill bacteria through another agent. This is an incredibly effective double strategy, because bacteria can develop resistance to other forms of treatment commonly used in aesthetic dermatology.
LED light therapy is especially effective for chronic acne, as it addresses the underlying issues. Because of its wound healing properties, it can also help heal and fade acne scarring, resulting in smooth and clear skin.
Red Light Therapy Vs. Blue Light Therapy
What really is the difference between red and blue light acne treatment?
The colors refer to the frequency of the light that the light therapy device emits. Blue light therapy devices emit light that corresponds to the visible blue color spectrum, whereas red light therapy uses the spectrum of the visible red light.
Yes, but what do these colors really mean?
Red and blue light therapy devices emit light that penetrates the skin at different depths. Blue light therapy devices reach the top, surface layer of the skin, while red light penetrates the deeper layers. A lot of red light therapy devices also emit near-infrared light which penetrates the deepest. Usually, combined depth of penetration of the light means more targeted acne treatment and better results.
In terms of safety, LED light devices are very well tolerated. Blue light source devices require a minimum of caution because high intensity blue light may cause temporary sensations of tingling, and after the blue light treatment, the skin might be red or mildly irritated for a while. These effects only last a short time.
None of those concerns pertain to red light acne treatments. Most red and blue devices intended for use on the face can be used even on sensitive skin and don't cause much if any adverse effects.
How to Treat Acne with LED Light Therapy
LED light therapy has an edge over other acne treatments because it is so well tolerated that you can use it daily with no concern.
For managing acne, you should use phototherapy for around fifteen minutes every day. Don't forget to use protective goggles to avoid the light shining directly into your eyes.
Before you start, it's advisable to avoid tanning beds for a few days.
The effects start immediately. In the case of mild to moderate acne, the skin's appearance should start improving noticeably almost right away. When it comes to long-term problems, it might take four to six weeks to start clearing up existing blemishes and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
After continued regular use, you should have a more even skin color without new breakouts.
What Are the Side Effects of LED Light Therapy Acne Treatment?
Unlike photodynamic therapy, red and blue light therapy for acne does not have negative side effects. It is the safest form of acne phototherapy of all the light based therapies. This is because the light emitting diodes in LED light devices don't produce much heat or emit UV light.
The treatment is completely non-invasive and non-toxic. It does not increase the risk of skin cancer. It is well tolerated even among patients with sensitive skin.
In fact, this kind of therapy is much milder and better tolerated than many topical products such as topical retinoids.
Can You Do LED Light Therapy for Acne at Home?
LED light therapy for acne is not something reserved just for professional treatment. In fact, nowadays, light emitting diode devices have evolved so that they are small, portable and easy to use without professional help.
Before, light therapy used to be something that you could only get from a medical professional. This required going to a doctor's office, usually several times a week at first, and then every few months for follow-up treatments. This was not only time-consuming but also costly.
With LED light treatments, you can get clinical and aesthetic dermatology results at home. Treatments with a combined red and blue light device can be done regularly with no risks of adverse effects. If you have additional skin concerns, you can consult a dermatologist before you start with the treatments with red and blue visible light phototherapy. For most people, though, LED light therapy normally doesn't require prior consultations.
The clinical efficacy of light therapies for skin has been established in study after study. Research suggests that LED light therapy is a great and effective option for treating acne, especially in cases where other treatments have not helped.