Acne is a common skin problem among young adults and teenagers. Its typical causes are bacteria, clogged pores, enlarged oil glands, and inflammation. Over the past decade, experts have developed more effective treatments, including phototherapy.
Phototherapy, or light therapy, involves utilizing specific wavelengths of light to treat skin problems, including acne. The light can penetrate different layers of skin to target issues and promote healing from within. However, there are some considerations before undergoing phototherapy for acne to determine if it's suitable for your condition.
Here are the pros and cons of phototherapy for acne.
Phototherapy's benefits are based on years of research. Many dermatologists may recommend this treatment for the following advantages:
1. It Fights Acne-Causing Bacteria
Phototherapy can help fight acne-causing bacteria. UV and blue light therapy have this benefit. However, fighting acne with UV light has drawbacks, making blue light treatment a better option.
Blue light therapy can eliminate Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria that causes acne. This type of bacteria is sensitive to blue light. Other phototherapy treatments, like red light therapy, may also help, especially for acne caused by inflammation.
2. It's Non-Invasive
One popular acne treatment is a chemical peel, which is a minimally invasive procedure. While it may be effective for some, it can increase the risks of irritation and bacterial or fungal infection. In contrast, phototherapy is non-invasive. Thus, it minimizes the risk of adverse effects.
3. It Unclogs Pores
Dirt, makeup, and comedogenic skincare products can clog your pores and clear acne. While regular cleansing and a proper skincare regimen might be enough to prevent it, phototherapy is best for recurring acne and pimples.
Light therapy can help unclog the pores by reducing sebum production. It can also help tighten your pores, preventing dirt or products from staying on your skin. Plus, it helps maximize the benefits of regular cleansing and boosts your skincare routine.
4. It Heals The Skin
Some acne is caused by inflammation or allergic reactions. For instance, trying a new skincare product or makeup with harmful chemicals can cause breakouts. While this phenomenon may be considered 'skin purging,' excessive acne with skin redness and irritation may cause concern.
Phototherapy can help heal skin with inflamed acne, itchiness, and redness. Experts may recommend red light therapy to reduce inflammation. Some treatments may also use blue and red light to get better results.
5. It Clears And Prevents Acne
Acne may reoccur without proper treatment. It's also common when the procedure fails to target its root causes. Experts can utilize phototherapy to address each issue and clear acne for good.
Light therapy can clear acne and improve skin conditions to help prevent it. Many patients report significant acne reduction after four to six sessions done weekly. However, the results may vary depending on your skin's response.
6. It's Convenient
Phototherapy is a convenient treatment for acne. You can visit your dermatologist for a weekly session lasting only 15 to 20 minutes. At-home light therapy devices are also available for busy individuals and those who want an accessible and effective acne solution without leaving their homes.
Although phototherapy offers many benefits for acne-prone skin, it may not suit everyone due to the following disadvantages:
1. It May Cause Side Effects
Those with highly sensitive skin may experience moderate to severe side effects depending on the treatment. Experts highly encourage patients to undergo light therapy with the help of dermatologists to ensure safety and minimize risks. Here are the side effects you may expect:
- Pain And Sting: Mild sting is typical during the treatment and goes away after. You may ask to interrupt the procedure if you experience severe pain.
- Skin Dryness: Dryness is expected during treatment, so experts highly recommend using a hydrating moisturizer.
- Irritation: Irritation, like itchiness and redness, occurs when the skin is exposed to sunlight after the treatment. Experts encourage applying sunscreen for protection.
You can minimize these side effects by following your dermatologist's advice.
2. It's Not Suitable For Everyone
Although light therapy can effectively treat acne, it's only suitable for some. Those struggling with cancer, epilepsy, and photosensitivity should avoid phototherapy. Always talk to a professional before using self-administered phototherapy devices at home to ensure your safety.
3. It Can Be Expensive
Undergoing phototherapy can be expensive, depending on availability and the length of treatment. Since it's rarely covered by health insurance, you may have to pay more out of your own pocket. However, it's worth splurging on, especially if you've struggled with acne or other skin conditions for a long time.
4. It Takes Time To See Results
Phototherapy doesn't provide instant results. Like any skin treatment, it takes time to see acne reduction and overall skin improvement. Some may require at least six to eight sessions to achieve better results, followed by monthly maintenance sessions.
Undergoing phototherapy is one of the best ways to treat acne. If you've tried many treatments before and nothing has worked, you may ask your dermatologist about light therapy to determine the best procedure or devices you can use at home.
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