Does Blue Light Therapy Really Cure Acne?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
Blue light therapy can clear up to 55% of pimples and kill some of the bacteria that cause them.
Blue light therapy can clear up to 55% of pimples and kill some of the bacteria that cause them.

Blue light therapy is sometimes promoted as an effective treatment for acne, although people who undergo standard therapy sessions are typically not completely cured of acne. Clinical studies have shown that this method clears about 55% of pimples, so it's not a cure, but a treatment that may help reduce some acne. The light also can kill some of the acne causing bacteria, P. vulgaris. Blue light treatment is still being monitored for overall safety and effectiveness. So far, few complications from this therapy have been reported, but long-term effects are not yet known.

Blue light therapy can be used in conjunction with a specially formulated facial wash to reduce acne breakouts.
Blue light therapy can be used in conjunction with a specially formulated facial wash to reduce acne breakouts.

There are several apparent benefits to blue light therapy. It's painless, with relatively short therapy sessions, and the light does not contain UV rays, so it's not considered to be potentially cancer causing. Patients generally have two, 15-minute sessions every week for four weeks. People have also found that inflammatory acne may respond well to the treatment.

People who use topical 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) need to use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF).
People who use topical 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) need to use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF).

One type of acne that does not respond well to this therapy, and which may actually worsen as a result of treatment, is called nodulocystic acne. This form of acne usually shows on the skin as numerous bumps that are generally painful to the touch and may be red or purple in color. Cysts resembling boils may also be present and may be filled with pus. This form of acne may get worse with blue light treatment, so people with acne should be properly diagnosed before undergoing this therapy.

There are a few mild side effects to blue light therapy. Some pigment changes to the skin can occur, although they usually are temporary. Treated areas treated may also experience slight inflammation and may become especially dry.

Blue light therapy is sometimes considered as a treatment for acne, but it does not typically cure the condition completely.
Blue light therapy is sometimes considered as a treatment for acne, but it does not typically cure the condition completely.

It’s unclear exactly how long blue light treatments will help the skin remain clear, and it bears repeating that this is not a cure for acne. Some people experience significant improvement while others see minor, transient clearing. Generally, effective treatment in the best of circumstances results in a 50% reduction in acne. As a result, combined therapies are being experimented with.

Acne most often affects teenagers who are going through puberty.
Acne most often affects teenagers who are going through puberty.

One method under investigation is using the topical 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) before blue light treatments. ALA makes the skin less resistant to light, and may make it more effective in killing acne causing bacteria. It does have more side effects than blue light alone and may cause hair follicles to swell. People who are treated with ALA are instructed to use sunscreen for 48 hours after each treatment to avoid serious sunburn. Like many acne treatments now available, ALA with blue light therapy is considered potentially effective. Currently, there is no standard “cure” for acne.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent TheHealthBoard contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent TheHealthBoard contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

anon285916

Blue light therapy, by the way, is scientifically proven to reduce up to 70 percent of acne, making it a very controllable problem.

anon183791

In the Netherlands there is a company where you can actually rent expensive Blue Light Therapy to use at home for two weeks. Is there something like that in the US as well so I can see if it works for me?

anon148042

Specifically, the blue light therapy is supposed to decrease the bacterial growth under the skin. Who knows? Just like washing your face it gets the dirt off. The light treats the underlying sebum.

Glen Godfrey

So I have been reading these reviews and finally decided to have one myself. I have hormonal acne and lot of acne scars, ice picks and so on, oily skin, you name, it I had it. So before trying laser I gave it a chance and so happy I did. If you're like me, desperate and every dollar counts, try this. you shouldn't be disappointed. Skin is so much better.

anon123083

I had this treatment done almost two weeks ago, using the ALA and blue light. This was a trial run from my dermatologist, the machine he borrowed from a rep.

I sat with the ALA gel on my face for about 20-30 mins, then went under the light for about the same amount of time. At first it got warm and then it started to feel like a chemical peel.

I either got used to the feeling or the pain subsided after a few minutes. After the treatment my skin was very red, and the next day I looked like I had a severe sunburn, raccoon eyes and all. Then several days later I developed a scab under my eye.

Still today I have a lot of redness and very patchy and flaky areas on my skin. I saw my doctor and he gave me a steroid cream to use. I am not sure if the treatment has really worked yet or not, I have cystic acne, so I was surprised to read that it could be made worse by using this treatment, luckily it has not become worse. But please be aware that this could happen to you, I was on no other meds, and was not in the sun after treatment.

darryl80

There is still no cure for acne but there are treatments that help in clearing/reducing acne. I'm new to this method of treating acne. Yeah, how does it work? I'm sure it's costly. I'm still satisfied with the treatment I'm into right now, using Puraskin Acne Treatment.

anon85054

Blue light therapy to treat acne does indeed work very well, generally for over 90 percent of those who try it. The home light therapy devices from Trophy Skin have almost the same intensity as the blue light found in the dermatologist office!

anon25617

Specifically, how does blue light cure acne?

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    • Blue light therapy can clear up to 55% of pimples and kill some of the bacteria that cause them.
      By: Gordana Sermek
      Blue light therapy can clear up to 55% of pimples and kill some of the bacteria that cause them.
    • Blue light therapy can be used in conjunction with a specially formulated facial wash to reduce acne breakouts.
      By: ipag
      Blue light therapy can be used in conjunction with a specially formulated facial wash to reduce acne breakouts.
    • People who use topical 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) need to use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF).
      By: Antonioguillem
      People who use topical 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) need to use sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF).
    • Blue light therapy is sometimes considered as a treatment for acne, but it does not typically cure the condition completely.
      By: Ocskay Bence
      Blue light therapy is sometimes considered as a treatment for acne, but it does not typically cure the condition completely.
    • Acne most often affects teenagers who are going through puberty.
      By: Luis Louro
      Acne most often affects teenagers who are going through puberty.