Light Therapy

Phototherapy

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).

Efficacy

Strength of Evidence
1
2
3
4
5
Average 52% reduction in acne after 4 - 8 sessions
  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 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).
  4. 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).
  5. 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).
  6. NCT00933543. Efficacy and safety study with visonac photodynamic therapy (PDT). https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00933543 (2013).
  7. 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).
  8. NCT00594425. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with methyl aminolevulinate (MAL) cream in moderate to severe acne. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/results/NCT00594425 (2013).
  9. 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).
  10. 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).
  11. 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).
  12. 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).
  13. 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).
  14. 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).
  15. 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).
  16. 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).
  17. 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).
  18. 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).
  19. 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).
  20. 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).
  21. 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).
  22. 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).
  23. 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).
  24. 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).
  25. 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).
  26. 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).
  27. 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).
  28. 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).
  29. 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).
  30. 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).

Side Effects

Low
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.

Reviews

3.2
251 Reviews