A reporter from the NY Times called me today to ask my opinion and experience on light and heat treatment devices for acne. I gave her an earful for about 40 minutes. I had a lot to say. Basically, science on both fronts is spotty at best and it’s buyer beware. Particularly with heat therapy devices, I find myself highly skeptical. It felt great to give her my opinion. The article should run either next Thursday or the Thursday after.
I’m also now inspired to write new pages on light treatment and laser treatment for acne.org, so I’ll get on it and let you know when those go live. Just in short so you know where I come down on them for now:
Light: Studies are showing moderate improvement, but not much above placebo, if at all. Red and blue light seems potentially slightly more effective than blue light alone. But no light therapy is likely to be enough, and is at best an adjunct to other acne therapy.
Heat: Heat therapy is based on extremely flimsy science. I hasten to call it science at all. Results I’ve seen in person and read about on ratings sites and here at acne.org are poor. Plus, heat therapy devices do not prevent acne. People end up chasing pimples around in a never ending cycle.
Bottom line: People with acne are often desperate and willing to try anything. Quick fix gadgets will continue to come along, and we need to remain extremely skeptical. If you decide to try such a gadget, keep your receipt, and if it doesn’t work for you, return the item for a refund.