Red Light, Blue Light: Should You Give Light Therapy The Green Light For Treating Your Acne?

Light therapy is a treatment that is said to be able to help acne sufferers by reducing the amount and severity of breakouts they experience. However, at-home devices can cost hundreds of dollars, and you may not want to open your wallet without proof that these devices and the light therapy technology behind them actually works. This guide will explain what exactly blue and red light therapies are, and whether you can benefit from them or not.

What Light Therapy Is

Light therapy is a generic term describing using light-emitting diodes in specific wavelengths to medically treat skin conditions. For treating acne, red, blue, or both forms of light therapy are often recommended.

What Red Light Does

Red light therapy was actually developed by NASA. Red light therapy has been clinically found to speed up the body's ability to heal. It does this by reducing inflammation and increasing cell turnover, meaning that your skin will produce newer, healthier looking cells more quickly.

Red light can be beneficial for people struggling with acne, but not specifically to reduce the number of outbreaks. Instead, red light therapy can help to reduce in the inflammation your skin experiences during a bad breakout, and it can help the skin to heal as a pimple recedes.

What Blue Light Does

Blue light therapy works by killing bacteria on the skin that can create skin infections and pimples. Propioni­bacterium acnes, a strain of bacteria that can cause acne, is particularly sensitive to blue light. However, acne can also be caused by hormones, genetics, or simply unclean skin and clogged pores. Blue light therapy can help to control and kill bacteria that can cause acne, but if bacteria isn't the primary cause of your acne, it may not be helpful.

One study of at-home blue light therapy devices found that participants experienced a large reduction of whiteheads, blackheads, and papules. While participants also experienced a reduction in pustules, also known as pimples, the reduction was minimal and considered scientifically insignificant.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, a dermatologist can pin down exactly what's causing your breakouts, and help you to stop it. While blue light and red light can potentially help to reduce the amount of pimples you experience, as well as quicken the healing process, neither therapy is a cure for acne. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on an at-home light therapy device, try having a consultation with a dermatologist like one from East Carolina Dermatology and Skin Surgery, PLLC first and see what they have to say.