Acne light therapy

For as long as teenagers have started sprouting spots that make them think they are ugly and less attractive to the opposite sex, scientists, soothsayers and teenagers alike have been attempting to come up with a cure for acne. Pimples, zits, spots, bumps, whatever you want to call them, acne is the scourge of every teenager, and in some less common cases, people on into their adult lives. While there are a whole range of treatments for acne on the market these days, it is unclear whether any of these treatments actually cure or prevent acne, whether they soften acne’s effects until the teen can grow out of the acne phase, or whether they do nothing at all except make the acne sufferer feel like they are taking proactive steps. Holistic medicine practitioners have even gotten in on the acne fix bandwagon. One of the treatments they suggest is called acne light therapy.

Acne light therapy is just what it sounds like – the exposure of acne sufferers to daylight, or lasers, light-emitting diodes, fluorescent lamps, dichroic lamps or very bright lights of certain wavelengths in order to abolish the red bumps known as acne. Acne light therapy, as you can see, has no firm proven method, but proponents have pointed to the success of acne light therapy when using different types of lights. Proponents of acne light therapy also point to the fact that sunlight has long been known in old wives’ tales to be a cure for acne.

Scientists who have studied the effects of acne light therapy have concluded that sunlight does indeed assist with acne. Unfortunately, due to what we now know about the harmfulness of the sun’s rays, it is impractical and even downright irresponsible to expose someone suffering from acne to extreme sunlight. On the other hand, studies have shown that artificial UV light such as that found in sun lamps or tanning beds is not as helpful when it comes to treating acne as the actual sun.

So how does acne light therapy work? Scientists and other proponents of acne light therapy say that one element of visible light – the violet colored rays – present in natural sunlight work to activate a porphyrin, a substance found in the body that subsequently damages and kills the bacteria that started the acne by releasing oxygen. Interestingly, porphyrin is found in people with the disease porphyria, and acne light therapy should never be used on sufferers of the disease because they already have abnormalities with their porphyrin.

What acne light therapy proponents would call “deep penetrating light therapy” has been shown to work as treatment for acne. In this procedure, the acne sufferer, while wearing protective eye wear, is exposed to light for three consecutive days. At the end of the regimen, supposedly the bacteria in the pores have been reduced by 99.9%. The procedure uses artificial lights such as LEDs, dichoric filament bulbs or fluorescent lamps. Other findings say that overall improvements only account for about 76% to 80% of the bacteria disappearing, which is still a large enough number to grab the attention of acne sufferers and scientists everywhere. On the other hand, about 10% of users of acne light therapy see no improvement in their skin conditions whatsoever.

Acne light therapy has also been used to treat other conditions such as seasonal affective disorder, neonatal jaundice and insomnia. Other skin ailments that can be treated using a version of acne light therapy include psoriasis and eczema.

If you are interested in acne light therapy, contact a reputable dermatologist first to find out if the therapy is right for your specific condition.

Last updated on Oct 13th, 2009 and filed under Skin Care. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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