Acner.org: Acne treatment

Acner.org: Acne treatment

Blue Laser Acne Treatment

Blue Laser Acne Treatment

Overview

Almost everyone gets acne in their teen years: The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) estimates that up to 85 percent or even more people will have pimples during their lives, generally between the ages of 11 and 20. Treating acne isn't always simple, either, since some infections seem to resist common acne medications, such as benzoyl peroxide. But blue laser acne treatment offers an alternative for this type of acne, the AAD says.

Significance

Acne, with its associated pimples, whiteheads, blackheads and cysts, stems from three main factors, according to the Mayo Clinic. First, your skin produces too much oil, which is called sebum. Next, your skin begins to shed its own cells at what the Mayo Clinic explains is an abnormal rate, and these dead skin cells irritate hair follicles on your skin. These dead skin cells also combine with the sebum produced by your sebaceous glands and create a thick substance that clogs pores. And finally, a bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) begins to flourish in the oil trapped beneath the clogged skin pore. Combined, the bacteria, clogged pores and oily skin create acne.

Function

Blue laser acne treatment isn't technically a laser, according to the AAD. Instead, the treatment uses blue LED lights at a very specific light wavelength. This light targets and kills the P. acnes bacteria that cause much of the inflammation and infection associated with acne. Some types of P. acnes bacteria resist the effects of antibiotics prescribed to fight acne, but blue LED light energy can kill these bacteria. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given its stamp of approval to blue laser acne treatment, saying it's an effective way to treat acne that has failed to respond to other treatments, specifically antibiotics.

Time Frame

Patients receive blue laser acne treatments incrementally over the course of several months, according to the AAD. Most commonly, dermatologists will recommend a course of six or eight treatments, spaced twice a week over about two months. Each treatment takes about 15 minutes. In a treatment, the technician or dermatologist will use a wand-like device to apply the blue light energy to one small portion of the treatment area at a time. Side effects include reddening of the skin (like a mild sunburn), skin dryness and potentially some swelling, although the AAD says side effects generally are mild.

Effects

Most people who complete their prescribed course of blue laser acne treatments will see about 55 percent of their acne lesions disappear after the treatments are complete, the AAD says. Published medical studies back up this conclusion. In a study published in 2006 in the "Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy," for example, researchers treated 45 patients with high-intensity blue light twice a week for four to eight weeks. Twenty percent of patients reported total clearing of their acne at eight weeks, and half said they were highly satisfied with the treatment.

Considerations

Blue laser acne treatment may be most effective when combined with other acne therapies that target the other causes of acne, according to the AAD. And, some patients report that treatment doesn't keep acne at bay forever; in fact, acne may return or even worsen significantly a few months after blue laser acne treatment wraps up. But many patients prefer blue laser acne treatment sessions to other, daily treatments involving prescription medications, especially in severe cases of acne that appear to resist other therapies.

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