Treating Acne With Blue Light Therapy

Treating Acne With Blue Light Therapy

Everyone gets acne, and while it is often suggested that acne only lasts through puberty, it can show up at any age. Acne is not always serious but is often a nuisance, can be painful, and possibly lead to infection if treated improperly. Acne can also contribute to lower self-esteem, poor self-image, scarring, and other long-term impacts. 

Many acne treatments can seem invasive or rigorous, involving prescription medication. Despite the assortment of oral and topical remedies accessible for addressing acne symptoms, a substantial portion of the millions of individuals dealing with acne are discontented with either the outcomes or the side effects of these treatments.

Dermatologists have embraced visible light devices for the last two decades as an alternative acne treatment. Referred to as light therapy, this approach encompasses blue light, red light, or phototherapy. Supported by research and deemed trustworthy, this treatment is generally safe for most individuals and is accompanied by minimal side effects. Blue light therapy has shown to be especially effective when used to treat acne.

LED Light Therapy

Blue light therapy is a type of LED light therapy. LED light therapy is a skin treatment method that avoids using ultraviolet light. Instead, it harnesses skin-friendly, low-level light across various wavelengths and colors, including Amber, Blue, Red, and Green.

Distinct LED lights are occasionally coupled with a photosensitive medication named 5-aminolevulinic acid. Applied to the skin in conjunction with LED light, this medication heightens light sensitivity but augments the efficacy of the treatment, known as photodynamic therapy.

While LED light therapy is commonly conducted under the supervision of dermatologists, a range of LED light facial devices are available for home use. These include light facial masks, targeted spot treatment light wands, and professional LED light machines. These lights cater to a variety of skin conditions. While LED light therapy holds promise as a skin treatment, the efficacy of all colors and devices requires further investigation. 

For Skin Health

Despite LED lights being present since the 1960s, their application for skin treatment emerged more recently. Due to distinct wavelengths penetrating the skin at varying depths, this therapy proves versatile in addressing numerous skin conditions, including acne, fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and more. 
Blue light frequently targets acne, as studies indicate it effectively eliminates acne-causing bacteria. Red light is often paired with blue light to alleviate inflammation and redness while promoting youthful skin. By stimulating fibroblasts, skin cells pivotal in collagen production, red light contributes to skin rejuvenation. Research suggests that red LED light therapy can enhance skin tightness, diminish wrinkles and fine lines, and yield smoother, softer skin.

LED light therapy, particularly blue light therapy, has been shown to be effective in treating acne, but it can depend on the type of acne and its severity.


Skin features minuscule openings known as pores, which have the potential to get obstructed by oil, bacteria, dead skin cells, and dirt. When this happens, the result can be a pimple, often called a zit or blemish.

Frequent occurrences of pimples, especially when they manifest in clusters, may indicate the presence of acne. In essence, acne is the underlying skin condition responsible for developing pimples.

Acne is remarkably prevalent, with research estimating that approximately 9.4% of the global population experiences it. Acne is the most prevalent skin condition in the United States, as the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) highlights.

While acne doesn't pose a grave threat to your overall well-being, it can be discomforting, particularly when severe. Over time, acne can also lead to scarring.

It's undeniable that acne can contribute to emotional distress. The presence of acne and subsequent scars on your face or other visible body areas can impact your self-esteem and self-assurance, and these effects can even extend to feelings of anxiety or depression.

For those grappling with acne, it's crucial to understand this is commonplace. Equally important to note is that effective treatments abound, offering you various avenues to diminish the occurrence of pimples and minimize the likelihood of scarring.

Acne Types 

Numerous types of acne exist, including:

  • Fungal acne (pityrosporum folliculitis): This variation arises when yeast accumulates within hair follicles, resulting in itchiness and inflammation.
  • Cystic acne: Characterized by deep, pus-filled pimples and nodules, cystic acne has the potential to lead to scarring.
  • Hormonal acne: Affecting adults and kids alike, hormonal acne results from excessive sebum production that obstructs pores.
  • Nodular acne: This severe form of acne manifests as pimples on the skin's surface and tender, nodular lumps beneath the skin.

All these acne variations can impact self-esteem, but cystic and nodular acne hold the potential to cause lasting skin damage in the form of scars. If you have long-lasting, severe acne, it may be advisable to seek assistance from a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable treatment options.


Acne emerges when oil, dead skin cells, or bacteria obstruct your skin's pores. Each skin pore corresponds to a follicle, encompassing a hair and a sebaceous (oil) gland. The sebaceous gland releases sebum, an oily substance that ascends the hair, exits the pore, and graces your skin's surface. Sebum plays a pivotal role in maintaining the suppleness and softness of your skin.

Disruptions in this lubrication process can contribute to the onset of acne. For instance, acne may develop when:

  • Your follicles generate excessive oil
  • Dead skin cells amass within your pores
  • Bacteria accumulate within your pores

Any of these issues can precipitate the formation of pimples, which arise when bacteria proliferate within a clogged pore, impeding the escape of oil. Acne can also develop or be triggered due to other lifestyle factors such as poor sleep, hormonal changes, smoking, and oily beauty products.

Blue light therapy may be an effective treatment option depending on the type of acne and its cause.

Blue Light Therapy

Blue light effectively targets the acne-causing bacteria recognized as Propionibacterium acnes, or P acnes, responsible for triggering inflammation. P acnes displays sensitivity to blue light, allowing its eradication when this particular wavelength is employed. One study showed over 70% of participants saw improvements in their acne within five weeks of treatment.

Through the application of blue light, the bacteria inhabiting the skin's oil glands are effectively eliminated. Simultaneously, introducing infrared light (heat) via at-home devices prompts the oil glands to contract in size. Consequently, there is a reduction in skin oil production and bacterial presence, ultimately culminating in the resolution of acne within the treated regions.

The expulsion of bacteria from the skin using blue light mitigates the inflammation associated with red pimples (papules) commonly observed in cases of acne. These blemishes gradually vanish with a succession of treatments, restoring the skin to its natural, unblemished state.

Blue light treatment is often advised for individuals grappling with red pimples, characteristic of inflammatory acne. High-quality blue light therapy devices are designed to emit the precise wavelength that effectively targets and eradicates bacteria residing within follicles and pores beneath the skin's surface. This therapeutic approach proves beneficial in managing mild to moderate acne and contributing to the attainment of a radiant, unblemished complexion. 

Consistent treatments can yield significant improvements across the spectrum of inflammatory acne types. Anyone affected by unwelcome acne concerns could be a suitable candidates for this treatment, irrespective of their skin tone or the severity of their acne. This option is particularly advantageous for those seeking alternatives to acne medications.

Side Effects

When used correctly, blue light therapy seems to lack significant long-term repercussions. Nevertheless, minor adverse effects may arise, including:

  • Dry skin
  • Alterations in skin color
  • Stinging
  • Itchiness and irritation

Thankfully, these issues typically subside shortly after the treatment. There are no serious, long-term side effects associated with blue light therapy. However, it's important to note that blue light therapy may not be suitable for individuals with porphyria, a rare blood disorder that heightens sensitivity to light. Similarly, those with lupus or an allergy to porphyrins should avoid undergoing this treatment.

If employed alongside photosensitizing medications, individuals might experience sun sensitivity, irritation, and peeling, lasting 2–3 days. When being treated in an office setting, be sure to notify your practitioner about any concerns. If you are receiving treatment at home with a device, follow all the safety directions and do not use it too close to bedtime or without the proper eye protection when aimed at your face.

At Home or In-Office

Individuals can undergo blue light therapy either at a dermatologist's clinic or to self-administer it in the comfort of their own homes.

For an appointment at a medical facility, arriving with clean, makeup-free skin is recommended. The doctor will provide protective goggles to shield the eyes while the individual reclines or sits beneath a blue light for the treatment's duration. Typically, there is minimal to no sensation of pain or discomfort throughout the procedure.

In the interim between sessions, it's advisable to refrain from touching or manipulating the blemishes on the skin. Additionally, adhering to the dermatologist's guidance regarding product usage and home care practices during and after the treatments is crucial. Consistent positive outcomes often require subsequent sessions for maintenance.

At-home devices offer the convenience of usage to patients, enabling them to utilize them at their preferred time, whether daytime or nighttime and yield comparable enhancements. The remarkable progress in at-home tools empowers consumers to attain effective results according to their individual schedules. If you want to receive the benefits of blue light therapy at home, it’s important to choose a good device to provide the best results. 

Choosing A Device

Several products catering to at-home light therapy treatment are available in the market. Light treatment masks and devices designed to administer blue light therapy have recently gained popularity. It's crucial to prioritize FDA-approved light devices that have undergone rigorous testing and obtained official clearance for their appropriate use.

Blue light therapy can be integrated into your daily skincare regimen. Augmenting their effects by incorporating other trusted acne treatments, such as a reputable cleanser, can potentially yield supplementary advantages.

Blue Light Benefits

Acne impacts a huge amount of people around the world, from children to adults. 

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