Light Acne Treatment
Light acne treatment or phototherapy for acne is used to shrink and damage the sebaceous glands, destroy the bacteria that causes acne and therefore drastically reduce acne inflammation. Light therapy in general consists of the exposure to daylight or other specific wavelengths using :
- dichroic lamps
- full-spectrum light
- fluorescent lamps
- light-emitting diodes - LEDs
The light may be administered, sometimes, at a particular time of the day, with a recommended duration time.
Sunlight when filtered through the human eyes generate visible colours like violet, indigo, blue, green, orange yellow and red. However, other colours like infrared and ultraviolet are invisible.
Generally, light therapy for acne requires using a specific wave length of light to tackle acne or acne-scarred skin. A dermatologist that treats patients with phototherapy can choose amidst a variety of tools and resources to use the specific wavelength of therapeutic light.
A study demonstrated that P. acnes, the bacteria that occupies the sebaceous gland, when exposed to special wavelengths was able to activate a high amount of intracellular porphyrins (mainly coproporphyrin III) within the bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes - P acne.
This starts off a chemical reaction, photosensitizes the bacteria, that triggers the release of singlet oxygen. The bacteria cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment. So it damages the bacteria and eventually destroys it.
This reaction takes place as a result of the light therapy and is confined only to the bacteria, thus having no direct effects on the surrounding tissue.
The light acne therapy process depends on
- the wavelength of the photons
- the temperature
- the concentration of photons
- the rate of production of porphyrin molecules, which is
influenced by the concentration of porphyrins
Types of Light Acne Treatment :
Red Light Acne Treatment
Researchers have established that the red light wavelength range,(~630-740 nm), is capable of energizing the recovery process by reducing inflammation, stimulating collagen remodelling with cellular proliferation.
A research was conducted 15 females. They were struggling with moderate facial acne vulgaris. They were exposed to the red light therapy, wavelength range, (~600-750 nm), twice a week for 4 weeks.
The photoactivated porphyrin damaged the P acne that caused the acne. A substantial improvement of acne on the skin, and a considerable reduction of sebum excretion. Sebum is the oily and waxy substance that secretes from the sebaceous gland.
The Researchers conclusion was that red light phototherapy may represent an affordable, effective, simple, safe and well tolerated therapy for moderate acne vulgaris.
Blue light Acne Treatment
This uses the blue light wavelength range ,(~390-420 nm), to directly destroy the bacteria - P. acnes.
The bacterial molecule, porphyrin, absorbs the blue light. This triggers the release of free radicals , singlet oxygen, into the bacteria itself. The bacteria is eventually destroys.
A number of clinical studies have shown that blue light treatment twice a weekly or daily may substantially decrease acne breakouts and its severity.
Combination - Blue and Red Light Phototherapy
Both treatments operate similarly and therefore may be combined.
The performance of blue and red light therapy simultaneously allows the combined benefits of both treatments.
- Blue light acne treatment is anti-bacterial
- Red Light acne treatment is anti-inflammatory
Photodynamic Therapy (Levulan,PDT)
This therapy PDT is a combination of light based therapy e.g. blue/red or blue light treatment with an agent - topical antibacterial agent - this enhances the procedure and makes it more efficient. This could be Aminolevulinic Acid (ALA). This increases its synthesis in porphyrin and the bacteria - P. acnes.
The acne victim is then exposed to the blue light. This triggers a reaction in porphyrin to release singlet oxygen. This kills the bacteria.
The increased effectiveness of porphyrin enables the blue light therapy to be very effective killing the P acne.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
This system emits yellow, green and red high intensity light. This is released in a sequence of short blasts.
The red light penetrates, deep through the surface of the skin, epidermis, to the dermis, and damages the inflamed glands (sebaceous glands) that may cause the outbreak of pustules.
This damage causes the sebaceous glands to shrink. This effectively stops the over production of excess oil/wax called sebum.
The yellow and green light helps to destroy the bacteria that resides and flourishes in the human skin and eventually result in acne.