What Is It?
Light therapy involves application of red and/or blue light and works by helping kill acne bacteria as well as potentially reducing the production of skin oil (sebum).
Strength of Evidence
Average 52% reduction in acne after 4 - 8 sessions
- Soliman, M., Salah, M., Fadel, M., Nasr, M. & El-Azab, H. Contrasting the efficacy of pulsed dye laser and photodynamic methylene blue nanoemulgel therapy in treating acne vulgaris. Arch Dermatol Res 313, 173–180 (2021).
- Kwon, H. H., Choi, S. C., Jung, J. Y., Bae, Y. & Park, G.-H. A novel combined light-based treatment of acne vulgaris with 1,450-nm diode laser and 450-nm blue light. Dermatol Surg 45, 1147–1154 (2019).
- Alba, M. N., Gerenutti, M., Yoshida, V. M. H. & Grotto, D. Clinical comparison of salicylic acid peel and LED-Laser phototherapy for the treatment of acne vulgaris in teenagers. J Cosmet Laser Ther 19, 49–53 (2017).
- Nestor, M. S., Swenson, N., Macri, A., Manway, M. & Paparone, P. Efficacy and tolerability of a combined 445nm and 630nm over-the-counter light therapy mask with and without topical salicylic acid versus topical benzoyl peroxide for the treatment of mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol 9, 25–35 (2016).
- Song, B. H. et al. Photodynamic therapy using chlorophyll-a in the treatment of acne vulgaris: a randomized, single-blind, split-face study. J Am Acad Dermatol 71, 764–771 (2014).
- NCT00933543. Efficacy and safety study with visonac photodynamic therapy (PDT). https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00933543 (2013).
- NCT00673933. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with methyl aminolevulinate (MAL) cream in patients with skin type V or IV with acne vulgaris. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00673933 (2013).
- NCT00594425. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with methyl aminolevulinate (MAL) cream in moderate to severe acne. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/results/NCT00594425 (2013).
- Pinto, C., Schafer, F., Orellana, J. J., Gonzalez, S. & Hasson, A. Efficacy of red light alone and methyl-aminolaevulinate-photodynamic therapy for the treatment of mild and moderate facial acne. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 79, 77–82 (2013).
- Kwon, H. H. et al. The clinical and histological effect of home-use, combination blue-red LED phototherapy for mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris in Korean patients: a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. Br J Dermatol 168, 1088–1094 (2013).
- Wheeland, R. G. & Koreck, A. Safety and effectiveness of a new blue light device for the self-treatment of mild-to-moderate acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol 5, 25–31 (2012).
- Na, J.-I. et al. Indole-3-acetic acid: a potential new photosensitizer for photodynamic therapy of acne vulgaris. Lasers Surg Med 43, 200–205 (2011).
- Guangdaliu, Changepan, Kaili, Yuantan, & Xunbinwei. Phototherapy for mild to moderate acne vulgaris with portable blue and red LED. Journal of Innovative Optical Health Sciences 04, (2011).
- DUSA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. A randomized, evaluator-blinded, parallel group light dose ranging study of photodynamic therapy with levulan topical solution + blue light versus levulan topical solution vehicle + blue light on moderate to severe facial acne vulgaris. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/study/NCT00706433 (2011).
- Yin, R., Hao, F., Deng, J., Yang, X. C. & Yan, H. Investigation of optimal aminolaevulinic acid concentration applied in topical aminolaevulinic acid-photodynamic therapy for treatment of moderate to severe acne: a pilot study in Chinese subjects. Br J Dermatol 163, 1064–1071 (2010).
- Sadick, N. A study to determine the effect of combination blue (415 nm) and near-infrared (830 nm) light-emitting diode (LED) therapy for moderate acne vulgaris. J Cosmet Laser Ther 11, 125–128 (2009).
- Gold, M. H., Andriessen, A., Biron, J. & Andriessen, H. Clinical efficacy of self-applied blue light therapy for mild-to-moderate facial acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol 2, 44–50 (2009).
- De Arruda, L. H. F., Kodani, V., Bastos Filho, A. & Mazzaro, C. B. A prospective, randomized, open and comparative study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of blue light treatment versus a topical benzoyl peroxide 5% formulation in patients with acne grade II and III. An Bras Dermatol 84, 463–468 (2009).
- Ammad, S., Gonzales, M., Edwards, C., Finlay, A. Y. & Mills, C. An assessment of the efficacy of blue light phototherapy in the treatment of acne vulgaris. J Cosmet Dermatol 7, 180–188 (2008).
- Na, J. I. & Suh, D. H. Red light phototherapy alone is effective for acne vulgaris: randomized, single-blinded clinical trial. Dermatol Surg 33, 1228–1233; discussion 1233 (2007).
- Lee, S. Y., You, C. E. & Park, M. Y. Blue and red light combination LED phototherapy for acne vulgaris in patients with skin phototype IV. Lasers Surg Med 39, 180–188 (2007).
- Akaraphanth, R., Kanjanawanitchkul, W. & Gritiyarangsan, P. Efficacy of ALA-PDT vs blue light in the treatment of acne. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 23, 186–190 (2007).
- Wiegell, S. R. & Wulf, H. C. Photodynamic therapy of acne vulgaris using methyl aminolaevulinate: a blinded, randomized, controlled trial. Br J Dermatol 154, 969–976 (2006).
- Hörfelt, C., Funk, J., Frohm-Nilsson, M., Wiegleb Edström, D. & Wennberg, A.-M. Topical methyl aminolaevulinate photodynamic therapy for treatment of facial acne vulgaris: results of a randomized, controlled study. Br J Dermatol 155, 608–613 (2006).
- Goldberg, D. J. & Russell, B. A. Combination blue (415 nm) and red (633 nm) LED phototherapy in the treatment of mild to severe acne vulgaris. J Cosmet Laser Ther 8, 71–75 (2006).
- Morton, C. A., Scholefield, R. D., Whitehurst, C. & Birch, J. An open study to determine the efficacy of blue light in the treatment of mild to moderate acne. J Dermatolog Treat 16, 219–223 (2005).
- Gold, M. H. et al. A multicenter clinical evaluation of the treatment of mild to moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris of the face with visible blue light in comparison to topical 1% clindamycin antibiotic solution. J Drugs Dermatol 4, 64–70 (2005).
- Elman, M., Slatkine, M. & Harth, Y. The effective treatment of acne vulgaris by a high-intensity, narrow band 405-420 nm light source. J Cosmet Laser Ther 5, 111–117 (2003).
- Kawada, A., Aragane, Y., Kameyama, H., Sangen, Y. & Tezuka, T. Acne phototherapy with a high-intensity, enhanced, narrow-band, blue light source: an open study and in vitro investigation. J Dermatol Sci 30, 129–135 (2002).
- Papageorgiou, P., Katsambas, A. & Chu, A. Phototherapy with blue (415 nm) and red (660 nm) light in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Br J Dermatol 142, 973–978 (2000).
Low side effects and adverse reactions
Acne.org's Real World Take
Light therapy is a temporary and time-consuming treatment option that produces only modest results. However, it is the least invasive of any acne treatment, and its only downside is that it reduces folic acid levels.