What Are The Downsides Of Blue Light Therapy
The main drawback is the stinging pain which can occur one to two days after the treatment.
On a scale from 1 to 10, the average patient reports the pain to be about a 4. This pain cannot be reduced by any topical anesthetic. The best pain reduction strategies during the treatment are handheld fans, direct cold air, and cold water spritzes over the treatment area.
Ice packs and Tylenol will also help if there is any residual pain after you leave the office. Other reported rare side effects, which I have luckily not experienced with any of my patients, include rashes, swelling, hives, and blisters.
What Can I Expect Afterwards
Because several days of downtime is involved, this treatment is normally reserved for moderate to severe acne. There may be some pain during treatment, and side effects include redness, swelling, peeling, itching and/or crusting for around a week. People with darker skin may experience some hyperpigmentation that may last as long as a month. As skin will be temporarily hypersensitive to light, its important to stay completely out of the sun for two days after treatment.
What Are The Risks Of Photodynamic Therapy
PDT is a generally safe procedure, says Dr. Christensen. Aside from redness and peeling, some patients will experience a more severe reaction that involves blisters or scabs, but this also will be transient. In addition, the blue light can be irritating to the eyes, and for that reason, you wear protective goggles during the light treatment. In some cases, the dermatologist will cover patients eyes with moist gauzelike during a spa treatment, Dr. Christensen says.
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Actinic Keratosis & Skin Cancer
Blue light therapy is being used to eliminate the thin, superficial cancer cells known as actinic keratoses. This is particularly effective when treating pre-cancers of the skin.
There are some indications that Blue Light therapy can help as an anti-oxidant, helping to remove free radicals from the body.
This would deliver anti-cancer benefits and help fight the signs of ageing.
Ngpdt And Sonodynamic Therapy
It should not be confused with the unproven, unlicensed versions sold by some private clinics in the UK and overseas.
Clinics promoting these so-called “advanced” versions of PDT, called “next-generation PDT” and “sonodynamic therapy” sometimes claim they can treat deep or widespread cancers.
But these claims are not supported by scientific evidence and these treatments are not recommended, even as a last resort.
Page last reviewed: 13 November 2019 Next review due: 13 November 2022
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There Is Some Evidence They Work But It’s Far From Conclusive
The claims about light-emitting diode skin devices certainly sound appealing. They’re touted to treat everything from wrinkles, redness, and signs of aging to acne, scarring, and dark spots.
If you’ve visited a spa or even a drugstore lately, you’ve probably seen one of the growing number of treatments and products on the market. The question is, are these claims true? Can LED light devices really do all these things for your skin? And more importantly, are they safe?
Experts say that it’s too early to know whether these devices are effective. Some small studies have shown promise for certain conditions, says Dr. Elizabeth Buzney, assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School. “I think it’s a really exciting emerging area,” she says. But the evidence isn’t quite there yet.
What Are The Risks Can Blue Light Cause Side Effects
When used in combination with medications blue light treatments can cause side effects, including mild irritation and sun sensitivity. But those side effects are generally caused by the medication used during treatment and the resulting destruction of abnormal skin cells. When used on its own for blemishes and break outs, theres little risk of skin damage.
However, nothing is entirely risk-free. There have been reports of blue light therapy causing headache, dizziness, jitteriness, and eye irritation. The greatest risks are damage to the retina and the activation of reproductive hormones. Whether you prefer professional blue light treatments or a device designed for home use, its important to wear light-blocking goggles to protect your eyes.
Blue light therapy is not advisable for anyone who is pregnant, living with an autoimmune disorder, or taking a medication that causes photosensitivity. If you have questions or concerns about blue light treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.9
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What Does The Skin Look Like After Treatment
The treated area of the skin is usually quite red and may appear to be flaking or peeling, as it would after a mild sunburn. The redness, and perhaps some of the flaking, can last for several days to a week or even two weeks.
The area will also be more sensitive to light, so Dr. Christensen tells patients that they shouldnt let any sunlight or very bright indoor lights hit the treated area for 48 hours after the procedure. After two days of keeping the area covered and protected from sunlight, you can go back to their normal activitiesof course, using sunblock as needed for outdoor activity, he says. Most patients tolerate the procedure very well, with only moderate downtime.
What Can Blue Light Therapy Treat
Dermatologists frequently use blue light therapy to prevent skin cancer and treat precancerous and cancerous skin growths. The FDA has approved photodynamic therapy for the treatment of actinic keratosis, a type of pre-cancer that develops on the skin from years of exposure to the sun. Actinic keratoses appear as rough, scaly patches on the skin that may be light or dark tan, flesh-toned, red, or white in color. Photodynamic therapy is an optimal treatment for anyone who has multiple lesions since they can all be treated at once.
In addition to treating and preventing skin cancer, photodynamic therapy is also used to treat sun damage, sun spots, and rosacea. Our dermatologists also offer blue light for acne, and it has become a popular treatment option for acne sufferers who want to eliminate traditional topical treatments and medications.
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Can I Make My Own Blue Light Therapy Apparatus
When you are looking at making your own blue therapy treatment, it is unlikely that you will be to construct something that has enough control and power to use for treatments such as acne on your face. But you can easily build a light box that will assist you combat sleep disorders and mood imbalances.
The high-power blue light therapy LEDs or blue light therapy bulbs are becoming more affordable.
Many people connect their light box to a timer so that it can wake them up in the morning.
Whether you are tempted to build your own or just looking for the best available unit that you can buy for home use, blue light therapy has a range of benefits. If you are wanting to improve the appearance of your skin or improve the quality of your sleep, then it could be time to equip your home with blue light therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blue Light Therapy
While the practice of using natural sunlight or light therapy to treat a range of illnesses, conditions, and ailments has been well established for many years, the development of blue light therapy (which has the benefit of not containing any ultra violet light is a relatively recent advance.
As a result, there have been only a limited number of clinical trials completed. Much of the evidence of effectiveness or success comes from the experience of practitioners and patients. Here are some common questions people have about blue light therapy. If you have any questions not listed, please send them to us.
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What Skin Conditions Can Light Therapy Treat
Millions of people suffer from skin conditions that range from slightly annoying to life-threatening. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 50 million Americans experience acne each year, 7.5 million suffer from psoriasis, and a staggering 9,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. Light therapy holds the potential to treat certain skin conditions.
Red and blue light therapy first became available in dermatology clinics and spas. Now, patients can get this technology in their own devices for home use. The range of applications for light therapy is still being explored by scientists, researchers, and other professionals in the health, wellness, and beauty fields. Here, we discuss exactly what skin conditions LED light therapy has been shown to address based on medical studies and other respected sources.
What Is Actinic Keratosis
Actinic keratosis, or solar keratosis, is a condition that causes scaly bumps that grow on the skin, which has the potential to turn into skin cancer. These growths are patches of thick, crusty or rough skin. They are not life-threatening, but untreated lesions can turn into squamous cell carcinoma, and its always recommended to have them treated by your dermatologist.
These lesions are often felt before they are seen, and are most commonly found on the face, ears, neck, head, chest, and arms the areas which are most often over-exposed to the sun. Patients may even have some hidden lesions that are not visible on the surface for the first time.
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So How Does Light Therapy Help Pre
Light therapy for skin conditions involves either a blue or red light and different activators depending on the condition. If you have pre-cancers , common treatments from dermatologists are either freezing or creams. Now there is also light therapy.
While you can use just light therapy alone, it is most beneficial when used in conjunction with an internal drug . When the 2 are used together, this is called Photodynamic Therapy . The goals of PDT, freezing and cream treatments are the same.
If you have 1 or 2 precancers, freezing or creams are usually used. Sometimes they will freeze the spot and then leave it to see if more develop. But if you start developing multiple the important question that is unanswered is how many more are lurking below the skins surface?
People in this category need what we call a field treatment. It is where an area is treated rather than just a single spot. Light therapy treatments for precancerous conditions involves a very specific light source and a very specific activator for that light source. These 2 together cause preferential localized damage to the cells that are trying to turn cancerous.
The Appeal Of Treating Blemish
Blemishes and breakouts can be difficult to manage. Over-the-counter acne treatments are often more harmful than helpful. Far too many are made with harsh chemicals that can cause dryness, flaking, and irritation. When skin gets dry and irritable, oil production increases. As excess oil traps surface flakes, youll break out again. Finding a natural, non-irritating solution for blemish-prone skin can be a game-changer. That likely explains why so many people are drawn to blue light treatments.
But blue light therapy isnt for everyone. If youre less than pleased with the results of your current skincare routine, consider how your skin might benefit from botanical skincare products featuring the soothing, balancing potential of hemp-derived CBD.
As the CBD in BOTA plant-powered skincare products penetrates your skin, it interacts with important receptors found on nearly every type of skin cell. Based on what the research shows so far, that interaction has the potential to help balance oil production, regulate skin cell turnover, and calm inflammation.10
To learn more, visit BOTA to read our Complete Guide to Natural Skincare. Then browse our selection of plant-powered toners serums and moisturizers. All BOTA CBD skincare products are cruelty-free, third-party tested, and formulated for all skin types.
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Does Pdt Make Me Permanently More Sensitive To Light
No, PDT causes a temporary sensitivity to light, including natural sunlight and some indoor lights. The light sensitivity resolves with time, depending on both the photosensitizer drug and dosage used.
Light avoidance is generally required after PDT. The duration depends on the drug and dosage used. Intravenous porphyrin may make the body, including the skin and eyes, sensitive to light for about 6 weeks after treatment. Proper protection, including long sleeves and sunglasses, may be required. Topically applied aminolevulinic acid or methyl aminolevulinate may cause skin sensitivity only on the treatment areas for approximately 24-72 hours. These do not usually cause sensitivity on other body parts other than where the drug was directly applied. Your physician will need to discuss with you the required sun- and light-avoidance period required after your particular treatment.
Risks And Side Effects Of Photodynamic Therapy
PDT is a very safe and effective treatment when it’s used for conditions it’s been officially approved to treat. But the following side effects are common:
- a burning or stinging sensation while the light treatment is done this usually passes soon after the treatment finishes
- if the medicine was injected, your skin or eyes may be sensitive to sunlight and bright indoor lights for up to 6 weeks speak to your care team about things you should do to protect your eyes and skin during this time
Other potential side effects depend on the area treated.
- If your skin is treated, it may become red, swollen or blistered for a few days and have a scabby crust for a few weeks. Occasionally, it may become slightly darker or lighter and there may be some hair loss. This is usually temporary, but can sometimes be permanent.
- Treatment of the mouth, oesophagus and lungs can cause coughing, coughing up blood, difficulty swallowing , painful breathing or breathlessness. This is usually temporary.
- If your eyes are treated, there’s a very small risk of permanent vision loss.
Talk to your doctors about the possible risks of PDT before having the treatment.
What Are Possible Complications Or Side Effects Of Photodynamic Therapy
Overall, most patients tolerate the minor procedure very well without any complications. However, PDT is associated with some possible minor risks and complications. Since an exaggerated light-sensitive reaction is expected by definition of PDT, most patients understand and expect some type of a sunburn or red reaction after skin PDT. Not everyone gets a sunburn reaction, however. Some patients may have no visible reaction or redness.
Possible risks and complications of photodynamic therapy include burning of the treated area, skin discoloration, skin redness, prominent tiny blood vessels , pain, infection, cold-sore activation, blisters, scabs, unsightly scars, cosmetic disfigurement, skin discoloration, eye injury or swelling, allergic reactions, prolonged sun sensitivity, and reaction to topical anesthesia.
Minor, serious, or life-threatening reactions can occur with the use of anesthetics or with medications given before, after, or during a procedure.
What Happens During A Blue Light Treatment Session
The blue light treatment session consists of three steps. During the first step, your dermatologist applies the photosensitizing agent to your skin. This is the medication that makes certain types of skin tissue, such as precancerous lesions, more susceptible to the absorption of light wavelengths used during treatment.
After your dermatologist applies the photosensitizing agent, youll begin the second stage of the treatment process, called the incubation period. During this step, the photosensitizing medication is absorbed into your skin. Depending on the area being treated, this step can take several hours.
Once the compound has been absorbed, blue light is applied. Exposure to blue light causes a reaction in the skin, destroying the targeted skin tissue. The blue light only targets the tissues that absorbed the photosensitizing medication. During blue light exposure, you might feel a mild tingling or burning sensation, but this is only temporary.
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Caring For Yourself At Home
Follow the guidelines below to help manage side effects.
- Apply a cool compress to the treated area a few times a day for the first 24 hours. To do this:
- Take a clean washcloth and dip it into room temperature or cool water.
- Then, wring it out and gently apply it to the treated area.
- When the cool sensation goes away, soak the cloth again, and repeat these steps.
- Starting the day after your treatment, use a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser to clean the treated area. Use a clean towel to pat your skin dry and avoid rubbing the area. Then, apply a moisturizer to the area to keep your skin moist.
- Storing your moisturizer in the refrigerator can increase the cooling effect.