A Guide to Fighting Acne Using Light Therapy


Characterized by pimples, whiteheads and blackheads, papules, pustules, or cysts, acne is a disease that affects the hair follicles and oil glands inside the skin. When follicles, forming the route from glands to the pores (tiny holes on the skin surface), get clogged with sebum and oil, the bacteria too accumulate in the plug and causes inflammation leading to reddish pimples on the skin. Your doctor might suggest a number of ways to clear things up such as creams, gels, chemical peels or antibiotics. If the doctor sees no improvement, they might suggest you get light/photo therapy to treat stubborn acne that refuses to budge. Light therapy also causes the oil glands to shrink resulting in lesser oil secretions that clog the pores.

Why is light therapy used for treating acne?

Bacteria are sensitive to certain types of light and continuous exposure to those specific wavelengths makes it impossible for it to survive. This is exactly what light therapy is about. Wavelengths of blue and red light are used to clear acne causing bacteria. Mild to moderate acne is treated at a dermatologist’s clinic using light therapy.

Light therapy as an ancient skin treatment method

Light therapy, classically known as heliotherapy has been used by some of the most ancient cultures known to mankind. Buddhist and Chinese medicine have been known to use light therapy even back in 200 B.C.E. Indian medical literature dated back to the 1500 B.C.E. shows evidence of sunlight being used in addition to herbs to cure skin conditions. Our ancestors probably were using it too back in the time!

Today, home light devices are widely in use and much satisfactorily, have proved to be helpful without any severe side effects.

How does it work?

You'll need to visit the clinic at least once a week when you start this method of treatment. In each session you are made to sit in front of the LED panel of red or blue or both lights for 15 to 30 minutes. Before the treatment starts you're usually advised to stay indoors, abandon using some of your skincare products and in some cases you might even be put on photosensitizers medication to make your skin more reactive to light.

Light therapy has known to dramatically reduce acne in the majority of the patients. Reduction in swelling and pimples and overall skin clarity has satisfied many who have decided to go for it. Blue light therapy is specifically known to cure acne up to 70% in just 8-10 sittings.

It is important to add that while the results of light therapy are miraculous, it is not completely risk-free. Possible side effects include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain when skin is exposed to the light
  • A possible burn if you get out in the sun too soon or during the treatment
  • Dryness
  • Change in skin colour

We strongly advise you to consult your dermatologist and discuss your skin type in detail before reaching any decision for home therapy as well as clinical treatment.