Millions of people suffer from skin conditions that range from slightly annoying to life-threatening. According to the American Academy of Dermatology:
- 50 million Americans suffer from acne
- 7.5 million suffer from psoriasis
- 16 million suffer from rosacea
Light therapy holds the potential to treat certain skin conditions.
Red and blue light therapy first became available in dermatology clinics and spas. Now, patients can get this technology in their own devices for home use. The range of applications for light therapy is still being explored by scientists, researchers, and other professionals in the health, wellness, and beauty fields.
Here, we discuss exactly what skin conditions LED light therapy has been shown to address based on medical studies and other respected sources..
What is LED Therapy?.
LED light therapy goes by many different names: photobiomodulation, laser therapy, and low level laser therapy, and red light therapy to name a few. As the range of colors suggests, wavelengths of the light spectrum can reach different depths within the skin, causing different reactions on a cellular level..
Which Skin Conditions Can Light Therapy Treat?.
Light therapy was first heralded by health professionals for its ability to stimulate cell regeneration and cell metabolism and reduce wrinkles or other signs of aging, specifically using red wavelengths.
Blue light, at the other end of the visible spectrum, offers antibacterial action that helps treat acne. With this range of broad applications, different forms of LED light therapy can be tailored to specific skin conditions in people of all ages.
Here we discuss 4 common skin conditions that may be treated with LED therapy:
A 2018 study of LED light therapy published in the journal Lasers in Medical Science states that "light therapy represents the emerging and safest tool for the treatment of many conditions such as skin inflammatory conditions, aging, and disorders linked to hair growth.”.
Explore Top-Rated LED Therapy Devices
Now, let’s take a look at how red, blue, and infrared light therapy can address some specific skin conditions..
The study from Lasers in Medical Science said, “both red and blue lights reveal their efficacy for the treatment of acne.” In fact, a combination of the two colors works best for acne. The blue light targets bacteria under the skin’s surface, while the red lights reduce inflammation, swelling and potential scarring while also increasing blood circulation to aid in healing..
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes rapid turnover of skin cells. Because the skin produces new cells faster than it can shed them, it develops rough or scaly, often painful patches called plaques. There is no cure, so sufferers rely on various treatments to manage symptoms.
In a study of red and blue light therapy, psoriasis patients had their plaques treated with red and blue light therapy, after first using salicylic acid to soften the area. Over the course of six treatments, improvement was seen, although it did not continue past that point. Since this was a small study, more research is needed.
For now, much of the psoriasis research focuses on UV light, which unfortunately, also ages skin prematurely and can lead to skin cancer. However, since red and blue light therapies come with little to no risk of side effects, you can test your own personal results at home..
Atopic Dermatitis & Eczema
Eczema is the most common type of atopic dermatitis, essentially an umbrella term for inflammation of the skin caused by the immune system. As with psoriasis, much of the research into light therapy for eczema has looked at UV light. However, several small studies have demonstrated the efficacy of blue light for psoriasis, some testing it in combination with topical corticosteroids.
A 2016 study published in the journal Dermatology showed statistically significant improvement of lesions, measured by the Eczema Severity Index, for 21 patients. The researchers concluded that “UV-free blue light was safe and effective in the reduction of eczema lesions.”.
5% of people worldwide suffer from rosacea. Traditionally, therapeutic approaches to rosacea have been focused on symptom suppression by means of anti-inflammatory agents. More recently, LED therapy has been introduced as a valid alternative to conventional therapy.
The reason red light is effective is that it penetrates below the surface of the skin, and stimulates improved cellular function. This makes it effective at treating a variety of skin conditions, and as a bonus, there are no known side effects.
Red light is bioactive in humans. In the same way that plants convert absorbed sunlight into energy, the human body converts absorbed red light into cellular fuel. Studies show that combining blue (480 nm) and red (630 nm) light therapy can be an effective, safer, and well-tolerated treatment for rosacea..
Are There Potential Side Effects?
Unlike UV lights, which can age the skin prematurely or even cause skin cancer, non-UV red or blue light devices carry little risk of side effects. For the best results, choose FDA-cleared LED devices and follow all recommendations from the manufacturer for how to use the light therapy treatments safely and effectively. While you cannot treat skin cancer with a home LED device, you can treat many other skin conditions, all without exposing yourself to harmful UV light..
Test different devices to see what works best for you
Every person’s body is unique and reacts to light therapy differently. For that reason, we encourage everyone to run a baseline test when they buy an LED light therapy device. First, test it on your forearm for no more than three minutes, then watch for any redness or irritation for 24 hours.
We also suggest speaking with your doctor or dermatologist before trying light therapy in your skin care regimen to rule out any individual risk factors.