LED Light Therapy: The Safety And Side-Effects

LED Light Therapy: The Safety And Side-Effects

LED (light-emitting diode) light therapy has benefited numerous skin conditions and concerns, encompassing acne, fine lines, and psoriasis. This therapy takes various forms, including red-light LED therapy and blue-light LED therapy, which are occasionally employed in conjunction.

LED light therapy presents a non-invasive approach that penetrates the skin's layers, enhancing its condition. Dermatologists and estheticians frequently utilize LED light therapy to address a spectrum of skin problems. Skincare experts often combine LED light therapy with treatments like creams, ointments, and facials to achieve optimal outcomes. Furthermore, various at-home devices harnessing LED light therapy are available for personal use.

Overall, LED light therapy is considered safe and produces very few, if any, side effects. While more studies are needed to fully understand the efficacy and best uses, the treatment shows promise in helping people reduce inflammation and pain, ease skin irritation, and more. LED light is not the only option for light therapy, but it is one of the safest options.

Different Lights

Light therapy has existed for many years and is not exclusive to LED light therapy. Many varieties of light wavelengths could offer health benefits. But some of those can be more dangerous and unsafe for the skin. When understanding the benefits and risks of light therapy, it’s important to know the difference between types of light and what treatment you will receive. 


UV radiation represents a category of electromagnetic energy originating from natural sources like sunlight and man-made sources, including lasers, black lights, and tanning beds.

The sun is the paramount supplier of UV radiation, encompassing distinct types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA and UVB Rays, both forms of ultraviolet (UV) radiation frequently associated with sunlight, differ in their effects on the skin. UVC does not make it through the atmosphere to impact the skin. While UVA and UVB rays can be damaging, they also offer certain health benefits.

Guarding your skin effectively can mitigate the risks of unplanned exposure to these rays, especially from the sun. UVB rays are associated with skin burning and play a significant role in the emergence of skin cancers, particularly the perilous malignant melanoma.

There are advantages to using UV rays in a safe manner. UV light wavelengths are harnessed to treat severe skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo. Due to its bacteria and fungi-fighting prowess, UV light may aid in eliminating whiteheads, blackheads, acne, and other skin imperfections. 


Infrared light is frequently employed in light therapy for managing acute and chronic pain in patients. This therapy involves the utilization of specific light wavelengths directed towards areas of the body that are afflicted with injuries.

Divergent from ultraviolet light, which can adversely affect body tissues and cells, infrared light facilitates cellular regeneration and repair. Moreover, it enhances the circulation of oxygen-enriched blood within the body, hastening the healing process of deep tissues and mitigating discomfort.

A distinct attribute of infrared light lies in its capacity to penetrate beneath the skin's layers, enabling it to reach substantial depths for effective pain relief. This non-invasive, natural, and painless approach yields a broad spectrum of health advantages without the skin being harmed by UV radiation, similar to LED light therapy.

Infrared light mirrors the warmth individuals experience when exposed to sunlight. On a daily basis, the skin naturally emits infrared heat. This form of light has demonstrated potential health benefits, spanning from pain alleviation to reducing inflammation.

LED Light

LED lights are swiftly becoming the dominant lighting technology across various applications, often emerging as the sole choice due to the gradual phase-out of incandescent and CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) options.

LEDs inherently excel in energy efficiency and durability, aligning with environmental considerations. However, studies are still being done to understand the safety and health implications of the emitted light itself.

Comparatively, electrical and toxicity concerns related to LEDs typically parallel or surpass those of incandescent and fluorescent lamps. Regulatory bodies continue refining existing construction and safety codes to mitigate fire and electric shock hazard risks. Naturally, adhering to fundamental electrical safety practices remains prudent.

Most general concerns around standard LED lights in public spaces revolve around blue light in the evening interrupting circadian rhythms and flickering LED lights causing headaches or other side effects. However, these are not often the issues experienced when utilizing LED light therapy as a treatment. While LED light gives off a small amount of UV rays, it is so negligible that no negative impacts or dangers are associated.

LED Light Therapy

Within the visible light spectrum, diverse wavelengths correspond to varying colors and permeate the skin at differing depths. LED light is believed to yield distinct effects contingent on the skin layer it reaches.

Red and blue wavelengths are the most common frequencies employed in LED light therapy. These wavelengths readily infiltrate the skin without bearing harmful ultraviolet components. Red light's application focuses on the outermost skin layer, the epidermis. It's theorized that when this skin stratum absorbs red light, the fibroblast cells responsible for generating collagen proteins undergo stimulation. This upsurge in collagen production can result in smoother-looking skin, diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Conversely, blue light targets oil glands situated in the deeper skin layers. By reducing oil production within these glands, the skin tends to become drier, which, in turn, could contribute to fewer occurrences of acne breakouts.

Multiple treatment sessions are necessary in most scenarios, with a standard session lasting around 30 minutes. Depending on the apparatus employed, you may position yourself directly beneath the light source, or a more precise device like a mask or wand might be employed directly on the targeted area. While LED light therapy is applicable to any part of the body, its most frequent usage revolves around treating sun and element-induced damage on the face.


LED light therapy stands as a secure and relatively low-risk treatment method. If you're contemplating the purchase of an at-home mask or device, ensure it bears the label "FDA cleared" or "FDA approved." Additionally, it's advisable to shield your eyes with protective gear like sunglasses or goggles and meticulously adhere to instructions to ensure correct device usage.

Encountering side effects from LED light therapy is uncommon. If they do manifest, potential side effects might encompass:

  • Heightened inflammation
  • Rash
  • Redness
  • Pain

While LED light therapy appears safe in the short term, experts do acknowledge a dearth of comprehensive information regarding its long-term safety.

Primary contraindications for light therapy encompass eye conditions like retinal diseases (such as those associated with diabetes) and the utilization of photosensitizing medications like lithium, melatonin, phenothiazine antipsychotics, and specific antibiotics. Individuals with a history of skin cancer and systemic lupus erythematosus should also refrain from this treatment. 

Before undergoing LED light therapy, either at a professional facility or using an at-home device, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist, particularly if you are seeking treatment for skin concerns. This step ensures accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for your skin issue. Sometimes, what may seem like aging or blemished skin could actually be indicative of skin cancer. Furthermore, consulting a dermatologist aids in determining whether in-office or at-home LED light therapy aligns with your treatment requirements.

In-Office Treatment

During your visit to a spa or a dermatologist's office, your LED light therapy session may be accompanied by supplementary treatments like a facial. Wearing safety goggles is essential to protect your eyes from intense illumination if your face is treated with more intense devices. Treatment is safe, and in a professional setting, you may have access to additional options and devices to help with various conditions. A professional will monitor the treatment and ensure everything is working properly. 

Once your goggles are in place, if you receive treatment on your face or body, your healthcare provider positions the LED light therapy device over the treatment area. It's crucial to remain still throughout the treatment as the device operates. Typically, the procedure extends for about 20 to 30 minutes.

LED light therapy is characterized by its non-invasive and painless nature. While undergoing the treatment, you might perceive a mild warmth, but you won't experience any discomfort.

At-Home Devices

Although LED light therapy is a safe treatment to undergo at home, the quality of LED devices can vary significantly. When searching for an LED device, it's crucial to go beyond just gauging its effectiveness. Assessing the quality and type of LEDs employed, the intensity and concentration of light, output energy, and wavelength consistency are vital considerations. Again, verifying that the device has undergone proper testing and received clearance from the FDA is equally important.

Opting for products with FDA clearance ensures that the technology-driven promises of the device are upheld when used as directed. Confirming a product's clearance status is not a complex task. The FDA offers an online database containing information about cleared devices, simplifying the verification process.

A benefit of at-home devices is the consistency in treatment. You can use the device throughout the week in the comfort of your own home and improve the possibility of positive results. However, be sure to follow all directions to avoid unnecessarily overdue treatment or cause any risks to your skin. 

Side Effects 

LED therapy and red light therapy are associated with minimal side effects. Nevertheless, individuals affected by photosensitivity conditions such as lupus or those taking photosensitive medications should avoid using red light therapy.

For pregnant women, it's advisable to exercise caution, as the correlation between red light therapy and pregnancy remains inadequately researched.

Furthermore, some studies may indicate that visible light can prompt the migration of melanin from the skin's basal layer to the surface in individuals with darker skin tones. This suggests that visible light, including red light, might potentially exacerbate hyperpigmentation and melasma in these individuals. However, further research is requisite to substantiate these findings. Due to this potential side effect, individuals, especially those with darker skin tones, should be mindful of the duration and frequency of red light therapy usage.

While it is uncommon for individuals to encounter side effects from LED light therapy, if they do manifest, potential effects could encompass pain and tenderness, skin rashes or hives, redness, and inflammation. However, these are not serious and should go away over time. If using an at-home device, the best way to ensure positive results and no negative impacts is to follow all directions for properly using and storing the device.

Simple And Safe

LED light therapy has been shown to be simple and safe to use. While the efficacy is still being studied, the minimal side effects have been consistent across studies and medical offices.  

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