Acne is a skin condition causing pimples or zits to form on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Although there is no cure for acne, there are many treatment options to limit acne flare-ups and control acne symptoms. For people who do not benefit from standard acne medications, treatment with lasers and other light sources may improve the skin's appearance.
Laser and other light therapies are designed to affect the deep layers of the skin without damaging the surface. Some laser treatments attempt to reduce oil on the skin by damaging the oil glands inside the skin. Other light treatments attack bacteria on the skin which can cause inflammation. There are several different types of light therapy:
• Blue light - Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is the bacteria that causes acne. Low-intensity blue light is believed to destroy P. acne bacteria which can prevent acne flare-ups. Unfortunately, P. acne is a common bacteria that multiplies quickly, so on-going blue light treatment is needed to keep the bacteria under control. This treatment is painless, but may cause redness and dry skin in the treated area.
• Pulsed light – This treatment combines heat and pulsed light to kill P. acne bacteria and to shrink the oil glands in the skin.
• Laser therapy – Diode lasers proved focused energy that can destroy the oil glands in the middle layers of the skin without damaging the surface of the skin. For example, the Candela Smoothbeam laser is FDA approved to treat a variety of skin conditions, including acne, by alternately heating and cooling the middle layer of the skin.
• Intense pulsed light (IPL) – Sometimes called photodynamic therapy, this treatment uses medication on the skin to enhance the affects of pulsed light. IPL is different from laser treatment because lasers emit one frequency of light while IPL technology uses pulses of a broad spectrum of light.
Talk to your dermatologist or other healthcare provider if you are considering light treatment for acne.