Clear Laser Light Treatment for Acne
Acne affects nearly every teenager, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Some cases are mild and merely inconvenient, but acne also can be disfiguring and leave deep, pitted scars. Dermatologists increasingly are using the CLEARLight blue light system to fight acne without drugs or ointments, and studies show the system can partially clear acne.
Pimples erupt due to several factors--including an overproduction of oil deep within the skin, pores that clog from the excess oil, and infection from acne-causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), according to the AAD. The combination of infection and clogged pores also causes inflammation, and severe inflammation can lead to acne scars. CLEARLight acne treatment, which technically is a light treatment but not a real laser, kills the P. acnes bacteria.
The CLEARLight device, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 to treat moderate cases of acne, features blue-spectrum lights that selectively kill P. acnes. The high-intensity light uses specific light wavelengths that can penetrate the skin's surface and reach colonies of bacteria that live in and around the oil-producing sebaceous glands. The CLEARLight treatment also helps to stimulate the body's immune system to fight bacteria in the skin.
CLEARLight treatments take about 15 to 25 minutes, during which the patient, wearing protective eye goggles, lies under the blue lights. Side effects can include temporary reddening, dry skin and mild swelling, according to the AAD. Dermatologists generally recommend a series of up to 8 or 10 CLEARLight treatments over a month.
Studies show that blue-light therapies such as CLEARLight are partially effective by themselves in clearing acne blemishes. For example, a study conducted in Israel and published in 2003 in the Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy found that blue-light therapies in the same bandwidth as the CLEARLight device cleared up to two-thirds of acne blemishes after eight treatments. Another study, reported in 2002 in the Journal of Dermatological Science, found similar results for blue-light devices.
Still, the AAD cautions that blue light treatments such as those offered by CLEARLight devices only target P. acnes bacteria, and therefore might not be effective against every case of acne. CLEARLight appears best for patients with inflammatory acne, the AAD notes, and should be avoided if you have nodulocystic acne because some studies have found it worsens that type of acne. In addition, your dermatologist may want to combine CLEARLight treatments with other therapies, including prescription medications.
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