Acne is a blight, literally, on the skin of countless people. But thanks to a new procedure, blue light therapy, there is a great new treatment option. Blue light therapy is now available as one of the services of Dr. Matsuda and Dr. Sheu in Honolulu.
WHAT IS ACNE VULGARIS?
This is the term for common acne. While usually the bane of adolescents, acne can persist and, in some cases, become more severe in adults.
WHAT DOES ACNE LOOK LIKE?
Although all of us are familiar with acne, its appearance can differ depending on the severity.
The most common form of acne involves superficial lesions with these characteristics:
- Open or closed comedones (also known as blackheads and whiteheads)
- Pustules or white spots that can be squeezed
- Papules or small, painful red bumps
The lesions can also be deeper:
- Nodules or the larger and painful red lumps
- Pseudocysts, which are fluctuant swellings
Secondary lesions can also form:
- Excoriations due to picked spots
- Pigmented macules — darkened marks from healed spots
- Erythematous macules — red marks from healed spots
WHAT IS BLUE LIGHT ACNE TREATMENT?
This non-invasive therapy uses light in the blue wavelength (from 405 to 420 nm). This range of light can kill the Propionobacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne. Blue light therapy is FDA-approved, and is recommended to treat moderate acne vulgaris, especially if the condition hasn’t responded to other acne therapies.
How does blue light acne treatment work?
When the hemoglobin in red blood cells breaks down, porphyrins are released. Porphyrins are also released by the bacteria found in acne. Porphyrins tend to absorb light, but only from a certain wavelength.The blue wavelength used in blue light therapy is absorbed by the prophyrins, causing free radical damage destroying the bacteria that causes acne.
Previously, light therapies such as UVB have been used to treat acne, but the UV light proved too damaging to the skin. Blue light therapy does not involve any UV light.
What can I expect during the procedure?
Patients sit in front of the blue light lamp for 15 minutes, usually twice a week for four weeks. In some cases a photosensitizing solution, aminolevulinic acid, is applied topically 30 minutes prior to treatment and the patient is exposed to the blue light for only eight minutes. This method of treatment is given once every two weeks.
What benefits and downsides should I expect from my blue light acne treatment?
Compared to other acne treatments, blue light treatment has numerous advantages:
- 100% all natural and non-invasive
- Safe for daily use
- No recovery time
- Does not use drugs, minimizing the chances of side effects
- May be effective even with antibiotic resistant strains
- Does not lose its effect over time
Minor side effects after your blue light acne treatment may include:
- Swelling and dryness of the areas treated
- Temporary changes in skin pigmentation
Why should I consider blue light acne therapy?
Blue light therapy has proven effective in eliminating acne-causing bacteria. Unlike the effects of benzoyl peroxide or other topical acne products, peeling and excessive dryness of the treated areas is minimal. Blue light therapy is a good alternative for patients who do not want to use disinfectants. Also, the therapy is painless and is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women.