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Light Therapy for Red Acne Marks

Light Therapy for Red Acne Marks


Almost every teen gets pimples; acne occurs in about 85 percent of Americans at some point in their lives and almost seems to be a right of passage into adulthood. Most acne clears without leaving marks, but an unlucky few acne sufferers wind up with red marks on their skin from their cleared pimples. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), light therapy can be an option to get rid of these red acne marks.


Several factors cause bad acne, including clogged pores due to oily skin, and bacterial infections, according to the AAD. When a pimple clears, a spot sometimes appears to take its place. These spots often are red but also can appear pink or purple. In people with darker skin, the spots can appear dark brown. Fortunately, these spots are not true scars and will fade with time, the AAD says. But unfortunately, they can be ugly and unsightly and often take months or longer to fade.


Light therapy to treat red acne marks uses laser energy to repeatedly zap the skin, one small section at a time, according to the AAD. The laser energy encourages the skin's cells to turn over more quickly, which leads to faster clearing of the marks. Side effects of laser treatment include soreness, redness and perhaps some swelling, according to the Mayo Clinic.


Few medical studies have been done looking specifically at light therapy for red acne marks, but studies looking overall at lasers in acne scarring are encouraging. In one study, published in 2009 in the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology," researchers treated 18 patients with two different types of lasers. After a total of four treatments, performed every two weeks, they concluded that superficial scars responded best to the laser treatment, but both lasers were effective.


Dermatologists generally do not recommend light therapy to treat red acne marks until other options, such as prescription bleaching cream, have been exhausted, according to the AAD. In addition, patients with darker skin likely will be the best candidates for laser treatment, in part because other treatments can discolor their skin permanently.


Light therapy for red acne marks can be expensive, and health insurance generally will not pay for it because dermatologists still consider it to be an experimental therapy. In addition, it may not be the best treatment choice for your red acne marks. The AAD recommends potential light therapy patients consult with a board-certified dermatologist to determine their treatment options.

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