Acne Blue Laser Light Treatment
Most people experience acne at some time in their life, especially teenagers undergoing hormonal changes. In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology says that acne affects 40 million to 50 million Americans each year and is the most common skin condition in the United States. It's also one of the most common reasons for visits to the dermatologist. Blue laser light treatment, recently developed to treat more severe acne, potentially can help sufferers clear up their pimples.
Several related factors cause pimples, whiteheads, blackheads and acne-related infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. First, surging hormones known as androgens cause the skin's sebaceous glands, which produce an oil called sebum, to overproduce that oil. The extra sebum then combines with dead skin cells to irritate pores and clog them, and finally, infection from acne-causing bacteria sets in. Severely infected acne can lead to permanent scars, and dermatologists urge treatment to prevent this from occurring.
Blue laser light treatment, which actually involves blue light from LED lights, not lasers, works by killing the bacteria that contribute to acne formation. The blue light, when focused on the affected skin area, penetrates the skin to target the bacterial colonies below the skin's surface. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved high-intensity, narrow-band blue light therapy for acne treatment, and the AAD says it's probably the best-known physical procedure for fighting acne.
Duration of Treatment and Side Effects
Dermatologists most commonly use acne blue laser light treatment to fight acne that has proven resistant to acne-fighting medications such as antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide, according to the AAD. Normally, dermatologists will give the blue light treatments in eight sessions over about a month. Each session takes about 15 minutes, and patients generally feel no pain. Side effects can include swelling and skin dryness, and generally clear within a day or two, the AAD says.
Researchers in several studies have reported that acne blue laser light treatment can treat acne effectively. In one study, reported in 2005 in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 30 patients with mild to moderate facial acne received eight treatments of 10 or 20 minutes each over four weeks. Within eight weeks after the treatments ended, subjects saw a significant reduction in the number of inflamed acne lesions. In a second study, this one reported in the Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy in 2006, researchers treated 45 patients twice a week for four to eight weeks, and reported significant improvement at eight weeks. Half of the patients in that study said they were highly satisfied with the treatment.
Since acne blue laser light therapy only targets one of the three primary causes of acne, dermatologists generally recommend it as part of an overall strategy to fight acne that involves several approaches. Dermatologists may also recommend blue light to treat acne that has proven resistant to antibiotics, the AAD says. However, many patients prefer blue light treatments for acne to taking an oral medication or applying messy creams repeatedly, the AAD says. Not every acne sufferer is a good candidate for acne blue laser light therapy, and potential patients should consult with their dermatologist to determine if the treatment would be right for them.
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