Acne Treatment: Blue Light Therapy Benefits

Blue light therapy technology, is an additional option for the treatment of acne. Research has shown in-office and at-home systems produce positive results.1-5
“Blue light therapy effectively helps alleviate this common skin condition affecting 50 million Americans and 94 percent of all females, according to Judith Hellman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, in practice in New York City.
 Dr. Hellman, who practices medical dermatology and specializes in dermatological surgery, laser surgery and anti-aging skin treatments, explains how the blue light treatment system works for acne, its uses and her clinical experience with the technology.

Q: How does blue light technology work?
A: Blue light kills the acne-causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes, or P acnes, which can cause inflammation. P acnes is sensitive to blue light. Using the blue light, eliminates the bacteria found in the oil glands in the skin. The added presence of infrared light (heat) in the home device causes the oil glands to shrink in size. The result is less oil in the skin and less bacteria, leading to the resolution of acne in the treated areas.

Q: Why is it effective?
A: Eliminating the bacteria from the skin with help from blue light decreases the inflammation associated with red pimples (papules) seen in acne. After a number of treatments, the blemishes disappear and skin regains its normal appearance.

Q: Which of your patients would you recommend this to?
A: I recommend the blue light treatment to my acne patients with red pimples (inflammatory acne). In my clinical trial with an at-home use blue light (Silk’n Blue, Home Skinovations Inc.), my patients had good results treating not only mild, but moderate and even severe, cystic or scarring acne. The device features blue light pulses that destroy bacteria within follicles and pores beneath the skin’s surface, treating mild to moderate acne and helping to achieve bright, clear skin in the comfort of the patients’ own home. Continued usage resulted in a significant improvement for all types of inflammatory acne. All patients with concerns over unwanted acne are candidates for treatment, regardless of their skin tone or severity of acne. I do not recommend this treatment to patients who are on Accutane (an oral medication), but blue light is an alternative for those who wish to avoid prescription medication.

Q: What in-office procedures use blue light therapy?
A: Blue LED technologies have been used in medical acne treatments for many years. Often they are utilized in photodynamic therapy, where a chemical is applied to enhance the effect on the skin. These treatments result in redness and flaking for several days. Both blue light in-office and at-home are FDA cleared, since they use the same acne-fighting light wavelengths and are safe to use.

Q: What are the benefits of in-office blue light treatments?
A: In-office treatments are more aggressive, and due to the size of the technology used, can treat larger areas in a shorter time. Patients who undergo in-office treatment benefit from maintenance with the home product, to keep the bacteria from recurring and the acne from flaring up.

Q: What are the benefits of at-home blue light treatments?
A: Home devices can be used at the convenience of the patient, any time of the day or night and lead to similar improvements. The incredible advancements in at-home tools allow for consumers to achieve efficacy on their own schedule.

Q: What results have your patients experienced using blue light therapy?
A: My patients have experienced a significant decrease in the number of acne lesions, both pimples and cysts, with the home device. Not only have they achieved better skin, there also has been a significant improvement in their self-confidence. Because most sufferers are young, the success of the treatment and reduction of their acne also helped their social life and interactions with others, both in a personal and a professional setting. I consider this a very big treatment success beyond just improving the condition itself. n

Disclosure: Dr. Hellman reports no relevant financial relationships.

1. Wheeland RG, Dhawan S. Evaluation of self-treatment of mild-to-moderate facial acne with a blue light treatment system. J Drugs Dermatol. 2011;10(6):596-602.
2. Kim RH, Armstrong AW. Current state of acne treatment: highlighting lasers, photodynamic therapy, and chemical peels. Dermatol Online J. 2011;17(3):2.
3. Gold MH, Sensing W, Biron JA. Clinical efficacy of home-use blue-light therapy for mild-to moderate acne. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2011;13(6):308-314.
4. Choi MS, Yun SJ, Beom HJ, Park HR, Lee JB. Comparative study of the bactericidal effects of 5-aminolevulinic acid with blue and red light on Propionibacterium acnes. J Dermatol. 2011;38(7):661-666.
5. Gold MH, Andriessen A, Biron J, Andriessen H. Clinical efficacy of self-applied blue light therapy for mild-to-moderate facial acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2009;2(3):44-50.