Can LED light therapy help acne?

Updated: Mar 22


The current climate of all things wellness means that an abundance of new and exciting skin care is out in the market, but are they necessary and do they actually help.

Enter LED light therapy. Whilst this isn't a new therapy, it is increasing in popularity, with DIY home kits.


So this begs the question - does it work and if it does, how does it work?


What is LED light therapy?

LED (light emitting diodes) produce wave lengths of light penetrate the skin tissues to stimulate cells important for tissue regeneration including fibroblasts, keratinocytes, mast cells, neutrophils and macrophages (Calderhead 2007). This therapy is becoming more popular due to its ability to promote wound healing, tissue repair, and skin rejuvenation all whilst being non-invasive (Wunsch & Matuschka, 2014).





Red LED's target fine lines, scars, psoriasis, stretch marks and wrinkles by stimulating the growth of skin cells. It does this by strengthening the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) which increases ATP output. ATP is essentially our cells energy source, so more energy means they function more efficiently. Red LED's induce tissue repair which is why we see a reduction in scars, psoriasis lesions, wrinkles etc (Wunsch & Matuschka, 2014).


Blue LED's target bacterial overgrowth, most notably P. acnes, by activating endogenous porphyrins. This results in the formation of free radicals that disrupt and ultimately cause the destruction of the cell membrane of P. acnes. More simply put - P. acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne due to their over growth in the skins epithelial layer, cause inflammation in the form of redness, swelling, puss and itching. The Blue LED's main job is to decrease redness and inflammation (Ablon, 2018).



When used in conjunction with each other they yield better results than just the single colour treatment (Ablon, 2018).



The science is there but is it a safe option?


Despite the increase in DIY home LED therapy masks, in July of this year Neutrogena's mask was recalled by the TGA citing 'for a small subset of potentially susceptible people (including people with certain eye-related disorders e.g. retinitis pigmentosa, ocular albinism, other congenital retinal disorders), repeated exposure may cause varying degrees of retinal damage that could be irreversible and could accelerate peripheral vision impairment or loss'.


My advice - always seek professional help. There is plenty of science to back up that UV light therapy can help your acne. However it is best to see someone who is educated and qualified to make sure you are protected and are receiving the right treatment.



Let's recap:

  • LED (light emitting diodes) produce wave lengths of light penetrate the skin tissues to stimulate cells important for tissue regeneration

  • Red LED's target fine lines, scars, psoriasis, stretch marks and wrinkles by stimulating the growth of skin cells

  • Blue LED's target bacterial overgrowth, most notably P. acnes, by activating endogenous porphyrins

  • It is best to seek help from q qualified professional when using UV light therapy

Ablon, G. (2018). Phototherapy with Light Emitting Diodes: Treating a Broad Range of Medical and Aesthetic Conditions in Dermatology, 11(2): 21–27. Published online 2018 Feb 1.

Calderhead R.G. (2007). The photobiological basics behind light-emitting diode (LED) phototherapy. Laser Ther. 16, 97–108

Wunsch, A., & Matuschka, K. (2014). A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment in Patient Satisfaction, Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Skin Roughness, and Intradermal Collagen Density Increase. Photomedicine And Laser Surgery, 32(2), 93-100. doi: 10.1089/pho.2013.3616



About the Author

Chloe is a university trained Naturopath with a passion for cooking real food and not feeling guilty about it! She is also a self confessed skincare junkie and is always trying or researching new and emerging products to recommend to her clients during the healing process. Aside from seeing people in her clinic Chloe is also developing an online skin master class, to help guide people all over the world how to clear up there skin for good! To be the first to know when this course launches, sign up here!

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