Blue Light Therapy is only one of several light therapies included in the category of Photodynamic Therapies (PDT). PDT is used to lessen the appearance of rosacea, age-spots and sun damaged skin. It is also used in the treatment of acne. The generally painless procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. A photosensitive solution is applied to the skin anywhere from 24 hours to 15 minutes before exposure to the light source, depending upon the severity of the skin condition. However, application of the solution 60 minutes prior to treatment is considered the average time. Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) is the active ingredient in the solution. ALA is a naturally occurring chemical found in the human body. These light therapies target the affected area below the surface skin, thereby leaving the surrounding tissue unaffected. Skin may remain photosensitive up to 48 hours after treatment.
Blue Light Therapy works on a frequency of high intensity non-ultraviolet blue light. Blue light kills propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes.) P. acnes is the acne causing bacteria that forms in the sebaceous glands below the skin’s surface. Weekly exposure to 20-30 minutes of Blue Light over the course of several months can lessen the severity of acne breakouts. Thereafter, the individual should undergo a schedule of maintenance sessions, as recommended by the physician. Common side-effects include redness and swelling of the treated site. Although rare, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction to the solution.
Some treatments that are similar to Blue Light Therapy are:
Combination Blue/Red Light Therapy
Like Blue Light, the combination Red/Blue Light is used to treat rosacea, acne, unusual pigmentation and age-spots. There is some indication that the combination light decreases the possibility of redness and swelling in sensitive individuals. The procedure varies little from the Blue Light procedure. As with Blue Light, the Blue/Red Light combination is a series of treatments over several months with follow up maintenance sessions.
Pulsed Light and Heat Energy (LHE)
Pulsed Light and Heat Energy is a system in which pulses of Green yellow light are emitted along with heat. Patients who suffer mild to moderate cases of acne undergo weekly treatments for at least 4 weeks. This procedure destroys the P. acnes bacteria, in addition to shrinking the sebaceous gland, thereby reducing oil production associated with acne surface eruptions. Patients generally experience continued improvement up to two months after the last treatment.
The Diode Laser works by simultaneously emitting heat and a beam of light. In this procedure, a topical analgesic is often applied to the skin before treatment to lessen the discomfort. The laser targets the dermis layer of the skin and destroys the sebaceous oil producing glands. Patients usually see results after one treatment and may need only a three session treatment plan. Mild redness and swelling may occur.
Pulsed Dye Laser
The Pulsed Dye Laser is less effective in the treatment of acne. It is generally used in the treatment of rosacea, unusual pigmentation, spider veins and skin blemishes. Some patients may experience discomfort, but the procedure is usually quick. A beam of light in the form of quick pulses is directed at the treatment area. Patients must wear special glasses during the procedure. There may be bruising at the site.