Light Therapy and Acne
What is Acne?
Acne and Acne Vulgaris (common acne) is a skin condition that causes various types of spots and break outs. Acne can occur anywhere on the human body, including the face, neck, back and chest. The severity of acne can vary from mild spots and greasy skin to inflammation and sometimes cysts or inflamed lesions.
What causes Acne?
During puberty both males and females produce the hormone, testosterone. This hormone is responsible for the increase in sebum production in the skin. As a result, teenagers are more prone to acne than children or adults.
Greasy skin is caused by excess sebum from the sebaceous glands. This natural oil, combined with dead skin cells, can block the tiny hair follicles and pores on the skin which then develop into black heads or white heads. A normal skin bacterium called Propionibacterium Acne may start to multiply and clog the hair follicles. During this process, the bacteria produces substances that are irritants and may cause inflammation.
Female menstrual cycles, pregnancy or the contraceptive pill are hormonal changes that may also trigger the development of acne.
Consequences of Acne
Acne may cause a number of issues, both physically and psychologically:
- Spots, blackheads, whiteheads
- Cysts, Lesions
- Low self esteem
- Fear of bullying / teasing
- Anger - feelings of "why me?"
- Difficulty concentrating - causing problems at school or work
- Social problems
- Relationship breakdowns
Treatment of Acne
Sufferers from acne should consult their GP or health professional for personal advice and various treatment alternatives. Treatments are focused around preventing new spots from developing, reducing inflammation on the skin and preventing acne scars.
It is questioned whether diet, stress and personal hygiene causes the development of acne but no conclusive research is available to support this. However, it can't be denied that maintaining a healthy lifestyle, by reducing stress, is important for your overall health and wellbeing.
Light therapy for acne vulgaris
Light therapy, or Phototherapy, has long been used for an acne treatment. However, with recent research, blue wavelength light exposure at 405-420 nanometres has been successful in the treatment for mild to moderate acne due to its antibacterial benefits.
Light treatments that include red wavelength light exposure at 633-660 nanometres have an anti-inflammatory benefit that is combined with blue wavelength light therapy.
This is the ideal option for those individuals seeking a more natural alternative to more common prescription drugs and creams.
- Keep skin clean to prevent new spots from forming - but not too much - twice a day should suffice
- Do not use harsh, abrasive or artificially perfumed cleansers as these may irritate the acne further
- Try and use natural or organic cleansers or moisturisers to help prevent irritation
- Follow a healthy, well-balanced diet including plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and omega 3,6 & 9 oils
- Try not to squeeze spots as this can cause infections and later scarring
- Speak to your GP or Health Professional and discuss your options based on the severity of the acne and your individual requirements.
- Whatever treatment you choose, don't expect an overnight miracle - acne takes time to reduce and disappear