Acne treatment can vary from individual to individual and depends upon the severity of the acne. The aim of any acne treatment is to reduce the spots as much as possible and to prevent any scars.
For cases of mild acne, one needn’t consult a dermatologist. But in highly severe cases it is recommended that you see a skin-specialist who could then prescribe the best-suited treatment according to your requirements.
It must be remembered that, no single treatment will completely clear your skin.
What is Light Treatment for Acne?
Light therapy or Light-emitting diode (LED) therapy is a method of treatment in which light in a particular wavelength or spectrum is administered for a particular period of time during the day.
Also known as phototherapy and heliotherapy, this method of treatment attempts to prevent the everyday red and itchy pimples that people get.
Light therapy is usually administered at home using a device. Certain light exposures are said to lessen inflammation and thus provide relief. It is often administered at home using a hand held device, around twice daily.
Well-known dermatologist Dr. Tony Chau studied the effects of light on acne on over 100 patients. A combination of red and blue light treatment was found to be highly effective. At 12 weeks the patients witnessed that on average their skin was 76% less inflamed and 56% clearer.
Our skin has the ability to absorb light and use it to stimulate a healing response. Studies have shown that when skin is exposed to LED light, hydration is increased by up to 600%, and skin cells regenerate at a rate of 200% faster than average.
The LED lights work by targeting the bacteria that has caused the acne in the first place. Different coloured lights have different effects. Red light and blue light therapies are used as well as a combination of red and blue light as well.
LED utilizes light to reduce acne bacteria (blue) and reduce redness from inflammation (red).3 Each treatment lasts for approximately 15 minutes.
The LED light boosts the metabolism of your skin and thus gets rids of skin lesions and acnes and also reduces their occurrence.
When is the Light Therapy for Acne used?
Light therapy is mainly used to reduce the acne scars and also to reduce every day “zits” which appear like red lesions on the skin. In addition to this light therapy also helps to prevent popules and pastules (inflammatory kind of acne).
4 Light therapy is often used in combination with an alternative therapy like an application of a recommended cream on the acne followed by light treatment. Light therapy works best for mild to moderate cases of acne.
In 2000 an independent research study performed by the Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine at Hammersmith Hospital in London determined “We have found that photo therapy with mixed blue-red light, probably by combining antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions, is an effective means of treating acne vulgaris of mid to moderate severity, with no significant short-term adverse effects. "
Severe cases of acne haven’t responded effectively enough to light treatment in most cases. Initially, treatments would be done twice a week for a few weeks.
A home regime may also be prescribed after proper consultation. For a home regime, a handheld machine would have to be procured.
Benefits of Light Treatment for Acne
The following are the most beneficial aspects of this form of treatment:
- This treatment doesn’t have any side-effects.
- It is completely painless and safe
- The skin looks clearer after the recommended number of sessions prescribed by the doctor (usually 6 to 8 sessions)
- No dangerous pills or tablets need to be taken for this treatment
- The treatment is painless and can be used for all skin types
- It improves the skin texture and lessens the intensity of the scars
- 75% of skin lesions and acne are resolved over the period of treatment
- It can be done in the comfort of one’s home with the help of a handheld device
- The LED light treatment is a safer, more effective and affordable alternative to laser treatments. Unlike laser treatments, it doesn’t involve the risk of burning.
- Patients can resume daily activities soon after treatment. This way your daily routine will not be interrupted.
- This method of treatment is a well-established one and is a non-invasive method of treating acne.
- This method is safe for people of all ages
Light Therapy Treatment limitations
The effect of light therapy over the years have not shown that it is highly effective.
For many people, this treatment doesn’t work. Nearly 3 out of every 5 patients who have tried this treatment method have had to combine it with another treatment so as to make it worth their time and effort.
It is quite expensive, it could cost upto USD 200 or more per month (this is approximate). Cases of severe acne do not usually respond well, it works well only for mild to moderate scars.
It doesn’t improve acne scars either. Moreover, the results of LED treatment are not predictable – it works for some and doesn’t work for others.
Moreover, if the treatment is carried out at home, it need not have the same effect as it would if done by a professional. An immediate reaction to LED treatment is that the area treated will be prone to dryness and probably turn slightly reddish, but it is only temporary.
There are also very few cases in which a light treatment had caused hair growth which led to further difficulties. However, such cases are few and rare.
One type of acne that does not respond well to blue light therapy, and which may actually worsen as a result of treatment is called nodulocystic acne. Don’t use this therapy if you have this kind of acne.
Cost of Light Therapy
This method of treatment is quite expensive. And the prices range greatly. Its approximate cost would be a dollar for every minute of treatment.
It usually costs somewhere between $75 to $125 a treatment. Before you begin this treatment it is advisable that you consult the cost and plan it with your dermatologist.
Costs vary from place to place, but it is not exactly what one would call an ‘affordable’ option.
Precautions with Light Therapy
Since the LED lights used are quite intense, one has to wear goggles while undergoing light therapy. Otherwise the LED lights could damage your retina.
Thus, eye protection is important to this treatment.
This treatment can take a couple of months before any visible effect is noticed, so have a lot of patience if you wish to consider this method of acne treatment.
Be wary of using LED treatments consistently because this could lead to your skin becoming deficient in collagen, which is what gives your skin its elasticity and suppleness.
Overexposure to these intense lights could lead to other unnecessary complications. Always consult an expert before you start a regimen.
Treatment times may vary in duration depending on the needs of the individual. Prior to treatment makeup and sunblock should be removed so that the light can penetrate the deeper layers of your skin.
The kind of machine being used is also important and adequate research ought to be done before you make a decision, since some machines have better results than others.
The current most popular machines are those by a company called Diomedics which specialize in LED machines. Another popular handheld machine manufacturer is Canada based, Harvey Nichols.
What User of the Therapy have to say
Since the result of light treatment varies from person to person, there are mostly mixed reviews from people who have tried it themselves.
According to some, it does work quickly and is a “wonderful answer” to the emotional anxiety that is caused by acne along with its physical discomfort.
And it also most effective after the prescribed number of sessions and the skin does seem to get better and no longer requires much makeup due to reduced blemishes.
Dermatologists also seem to share this opinion concerning LED treatment for acne, some prescribe it as a wonderful solution while others are not quite convinced.
According to one specialist: “L.E.D.( Light Emitting Diode) can help to prevent and control papules, pustules, and typical acne quite effective if done properly. The L.E.D. penetrates into the dermis and slows sebaceous glands that create oils in the skin that can cause acne. Non-inflamed acne such as whiteheads and blackheads tend to respond less effectively. Multiple treatments are required.”
Nearly one-third of those who tried this treatment have expressed concerns about the cost of the treatment and whether the effects would be long-lasting.
However for those on whom this treatment worked have felt that it was worth their time and money.
So if you indeed opt for this treatment keep in mind to have patience and also keep yourself well-informed on this treatment so that it can work best for your acne problems.