We find out how blue light therapy can help with acne. Image supplied.
As we all know, acne is one of the most common skin diseases affecting not only how we look but also how we feel. Chances are you’ve either struggled with it yourself at some point in your life or know someone who has been affected by it. Acne can be caused by many factors, oftentimes a combination of hormones, diet, lifestyle, increased oil production and bacteria – making it difficult to pinpoint a specific root cause. More often than not it’s a combination of some or all of these factors which can led to breakouts – anything from whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts, and nodules to name just a few.
Whilst most prevalent in adolescents, it has been reported that acne has affected approximately 80% of people at some stage between the ages 11 to 30 years. It was estimated in 2016 that upwards of 680 million people worldwide have experience acne at some point in their lives and is estimated to affect 9.4% of the global population, making it one of the most prevalent skin diseases worldwide.
Lately, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding LED therapy to treat acne – specifically Blue LED light for skin. So how effective is it really? Here we break down everything related to Blue light and if it can really assist with our acne woes.
What is LED therapy?
Short for Light Emitting Diode, LED light therapy machines use specific wavelengths of light to effect the skin at a cellular level. The different wavelengths translate to LED light therapy colours on the light spectrum and each specific colour has its own unique therapeutic benefit to the skin.
What is Blue light therapy and why is it good for acne?
One of the specific colours on the LED light spectrum, Blue light is generally regarded as the most effective treatment option for acne due to several reasons. When used correctly, Blue light helps create a chemical reaction that, when absorbed into the skin, kills the acne-causing bacteria deep within the skin.
Blue light also works to regulate sebum production, with increased sebum being one of the main causes of acne. When oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria clog the follicles, sebum can’t escape the pores, often leading to breakouts. Each pore of your skin is also the opening to a hair follicle, which is made of a hair and sebaceous, or oil gland. Pimples grow when these follicles get blocked, and oil builds up under the skin. By working to balance the sebum production (without drying out the skin), not only does this help kill the bacteria, but also works to prevent future breakouts from occurring – music to any acne suffers ears!
Thirdly, Blue light calms irritation and redness that can come with acne, especially when used in combination with red light. In addition to anti-aging benefits, Red light also boasts anti-inflammatory benefits and can help accelerate the healing process and help improve past acne scars. Additionally, both Green and Yellow lights can help to reduce post-hyperpigmentation left from previous breakouts.
Blue light therapy is generally considered safe, gentle and suitable for all skin types.
So how effective is Blue Light at treating Acne?
Blue light is remarkably effective for treating acne lesions, especially acne that’s caused by inflammation or bacteria. While there is no one single cure – LED therapy is backed up by significant research as an effective acne management tool. In one study, Blue light was administered to patients with mild to moderate acne for 8 weeks, with 90% of participants seeing a 77% improvement in inflammatory lesions and a 54% improvement in noninflammatory lesions.
How often will I need treatments and are there any side effects?
Prior to the treatment, the skin will be usually be thoroughly cleansed to remove any surface build up. The LED light therapy machine is then applied to the skin for between 15 -30 minutes depending on the location of the severity of acne and your skin type. This provides adequate time for the light to absorb into the skin cells and the sebaceous glands. Blue light therapy can be used not only on the face, but on the shoulders, back and decollate also.
Blue light, along with other modes of LED therapy are generally considered safe, gentle and suitable for all skin types, with no side effects or post treatment care needed other than your usual skincare regime.
Most therapists will need to perform a skin assessment to determine how many treatments are necessary, with most often a course of 1-2 times a week for 4-6 weeks usually recommended to see tangible results. It is important to remember that Blue light therapy is not an out and out cure for acne, as bacteria will continue to grow in between treatments. This is why its vital to supplement your treatments with topical skincare also.
LED sessions (depending on your city’s cost of living) usually start at approx. $50- $70 for weekly sessions. Most people will need weekly sessions for several weeks depending on the severity of the symptoms and how well the acne responds to the blue light therapy. The result is less oil in the skin and less bacteria, leading to the resolution of acne in the treated areas.
Most therapists will need to perform a skin assessment to determine how many treatments are necessary.
Part of a bigger picture
Whilst you will find excessively abundant info on acne treatments out there, an effective skin care regimen when used in tandem with Blue light therapy is considered by most skin professionals as an effective way to help treat acne symptoms and prevent future breakouts from happening.
Acne medication works topically on the outer parts of your acne but harnessing blue light onto acne-prone skin can kill the bacteria deep within the dermis and clear up blemishes before they start to form. The combination of both blue and red light therapy together is remarkably effective for treating acne lesions, especially those that are caused by inflammation.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix or one stop shop solution when it comes to treating acne. Being a multifaceted condition, there are a variety of factors at play, making acne hard to treat. This is why a multi-pronged approach is recommended by most therapists, with Blue Light therapy working well alongside other topical treatments.
This story is brought to you in partnership with The Global Beauty Group.