Acne Treatments with Lights
Columbia University defines acne as a condition in which clogged oil glands become infected and inflamed. As a result, whiteheads, blackheads and pustules form. Retinols and benzoyl peroxide topical treatments top the list of initial remedies, with more serious cases requiring oral medications, such as antibiotics and isotretinoin. If these methods do not deliver results, a dermatologist might suggest acne treatments that involve lights.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, five types of lights are typically used for acne treatment. Blue-light therapy, administered for 15-minute sessions over an eight-week period, is used for inflammatory acne; pulsed light and heat energy (LHE) are used to treat mild to moderate acne with pulses of green light and heat; and diode laser therapy is used for severe acne. ALA (5-aminolevulinic acid) in combination with red-light therapy also can be used for inflammatory acne. Pulsed dye laser therapy is a treatment for mild to moderate inflammatory acne.
Light therapy penetrates the layers of skin, traveling deep into the oil glands and killing the bacteria that cause acne. According to AltMD, light therapy also shrinks the oil glands, reducing sebum production. Less sebum results in fewer clogged pours and fewer acne outbreaks. Resurfacing is an added benefit of acne light treatments; it improves skin texture and reduces the visibility of acne scars.
Acne light therapy does not offer instant gratification. As with other acne treatments, it can take weeks or even months before acne problems begin to resolve. In many cases, a combination of treatments is needed to obtain the best results. For instance, an antibiotic may be necessary along with light treatments. Some dermatologists also might suggest using topical treatments between light therapy sessions.
The jury is still out regarding the overall effectiveness and long-term side effects of acne light treatments. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that the best candidates for acne light treatment have yet to be determined, although it appears that adults benefit more from light therapy than teens. It is also unknown how long light therapy results will last after treatments end.
You need to understand the costs involved when considering light treatments for acne. Insurance companies classify such therapies as emerging technologies and usually do not cover these services; that means that patients must pay the full costs out-of-pocket. For this reason, light therapies are usually a last resort for those acne sufferers who have exhausted internal and topical medications but who can afford the cost of light therapy services.
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