Does Light Therapy Work for Acne?

Does Light Therapy Work for Acne?

August 17, 2023

10 min read

There’s a wide range of acne treatments available on the market today, from oral treatments to topical creams. No matter your age, acne is something many deal with, with both mild to moderate symptoms, and many of the acne treatment options can have unwanted side effects.

For both mild to moderate acne, acne light therapy can make a big difference in treating acne and minimizing its appearance. With light therapy for acne, as well as scars, the treatments can help reduce the appearance and recurrence of acne, free of unwanted side effects. To better understand LED light therapy for acne, here are the ways it can help your skin conditions.

What Is Light Therapy?

So, what is acne light therapy exactly? Light therapy for acne uses a light-emitting diode (LED) to address acne with 2 different wavelengths (or colors) of light. This treatment is available at dermatologist offices and skin clinics, as well as at home, to address acne-causing bacteria as an effective acne treatment.

These light therapies translate as different colors we can see, causing intra- and intercellular reactions in the skin for different skin benefits. Whether opting for blue light acne treatment or red light therapy for acne scars, light treatments for acne can serve as an effective form of energy to address acne lesions and scars.

How Light Therapy Works to Treat Acne

does light therapy work for acne

Offering acne treatments in Minneapolis, Metropolitan Skin Clinic relies on both blue and red light therapies to treat the skin. To better answer the question of how does light therapy work for acne, we are sharing the perks of blue or red light treatments.

Blue Light Therapy for Acne

Ideal for addressing congestion, blue light therapy for acne works by primarily affecting the epidermis or the uppermost layer of the skin. With a blue light treatment, the blue light device helps kill different types of acne-causing bacteria that can collect in the pores and oil glands, causing acne to form. Due to its antimicrobial properties, this noninvasive treatment is effective for those who experience acne due to clogged pores.

Red Light Therapy for Acne

On the other side is a red light for acne. But does red light therapy help acne? With a longer wavelength, red light therapy devices penetrate deeper into the second layer of skin, targeting the cells that play a role in collagen production and provide an anti-inflammatory effect. With red LED light for acne, the treatment helps fight redness and provides anti-inflammatory benefits, ideal for anyone who has a red, swollen blemish.

Benefits and Risks of Light Therapy for Acne

acne light therapy

There are many benefits to blue and red light therapy for acne. Whether you choose red or blue light therapy, these options of light therapy for acne offer both benefits and risks for mild to moderate acne. Let’s break it down.

Proven Benefits

Scientists have found that blue light therapy can help better manage acne, as the blue light source can. help destroy the P. acnes bacteria that causes acne to form. In addition, red light therapies, and blue light therapy alike, can have anti-inflammatory benefits, affecting keratinocytes which are the most common cells on the outer layer of skin.

Some benefits a light therapy device can have over other acne treatments include:

  • It is safe to use as long as a trained practitioner performs the treatment.
  • It is unlikely to create long-term complications.
  • It doesn’t involve antibiotics or other drugs.
  • It can be used on all areas of the body.
  • It is suitable for use with most other acne therapies.
  • It doesn’t cause scarring.

Potential Risks & Side Effects

LED therapy for acne does have some considerations to keep in mind. Common side effects of these visible light devices include:

  • Redness
  • Bruising
  • Skin peeling
  • Mild pain or irritation

Although less common, other side effects can come as a result of acne phototherapy. Light therapy may have rare side effects including:

  • Dried pus or blistering at the treatment sight
  • Burns
  • Dark pigmentation due to overexposure to the sun after treatment
  • Severe pain at the treatment site

When Will I See the Results of Acne Light Therapy?

light treatment for acne

The results of LED light therapy for acne can vary greatly when it comes to managing acne. How long it takes to see the difference depends on the individual patient, what treatment you opt for, and how often you do light therapy.

Your other treatments, like topical and oral regimens, plus lifestyle choices like diet and exercise can play a significant role in how LED therapy will clear acne. Typically, it can take anywhere from four to six weeks, or even as many as 12 weeks of treatment before you notice a significant improvement in skin. However, some may notice an improvement after only four treatments.

Things to Consider

Research suggests, and clinical and aesthetic dermatology practices agree, that LED light therapy is a safe and effective treatment for facial acne and acne scarring. However, there are some things to consider before investing in light-based therapies. These considerations include:

  • It’s not a miracle solution. LED light therapy can have a benefit as it targets redness and inflammation while reducing oil production and bacterial overload. However, it isn’t a cure for acne, though it can help. Typically, it’s best for mild to moderate acne.
  • It should be part of a skin care regimen. Since LED light therapy isn’t an all-in-one solution, it must be combined with a good acne-fighting skin care regimen and may require prescription medications or other treatments to address.
  • It’s typically safe and gentle on skin. While other topical and oral treatments can be harsh on skin, LED light therapy offers a more mild alternative; however, proper eye protection is essential for both at-home LED devices and in-office treatments.
  • It may not be for you if you’re sensitive to the sun. This is especially true for those taking medications that make the skin sensitive to the sun. If you have fair skin, take special caution.
  • It can be covered by insurance. Especially in cases where you opt for a board-certified dermatologist, the treatment may be covered.

In-Office Treatments vs At-Home Devices

light treatment for acne

It’s no surprise that a professional treatment with LED light therapy is more effective than at-home alternatives. However, in-office treatments are more expensive, though more powerful and effective.

Since in-office acne light therapy is targeted and stronger, it provides quicker results. But that doesn’t mean at-home options don’t work. They will still provide results, yet at a much less strong rate than a clinic will.

Explore Your Light Therapy Options Today

Whether you want to reduce the redness in your acne-prone skin or need the anti-inflammatory benefits, red and blue light therapy can have incredible benefits for mild to moderate acne, helping you to treat your acne with an effective solution.

To learn more about light therapies, contact us for a light therapy consultation today!

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Book a Consultation

Please select a virtual or in-person consultation or call us (952) 288-2230

Blue and Red Light Therapy FAQ

Does LED therapy help hormonal acne?

Specifically with blue light therapy, which targets the top layer of skin cells, the antimicrobial effects can help hormonal acne, reducing acne by killing the types of bacteria that clog pores.

How often can you use light therapy for acne?

We recommend doing a light therapy treatment every week for a month, then opt for maintenance treatments every month or every few months for the most effective results.


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