Does Blue Light Therapy Work For Acne?

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If you have acne, you’ve likely heard of “blue light therapy.” Dermatologists have used it to combat acne-causing bacteria for years. Now, affordable at-home devices with the same technology are available, some costing less than $40. This means that blue light acne therapy is now within reach for everyone.

But what does this treatment do, and how does it work? In this article, we’ll explain it all.

What Is Blue Light Therapy?

Light therapy is gaining popularity in the beauty industry, and it’s easy to understand why. Using various colors of light to address skin problems comes with numerous benefits, including reducing inflammation and promoting healing and rejuvenation.

Blue Light Therapy is a specific type of light treatment that has demonstrated impressive outcomes in treating different skin issues, especially acne. Thanks to advancements in beauty science and technology, Blue Light Therapy represents an exciting and innovative method for managing, healing, and preventing acne. It’s emerging as a promising solution for controlling acne in the future.

Blue Light Therapy

How Does Blue Light Acne Treatment Work?

Blue light acne treatment primarily targets the bacteria responsible for acne breakouts. Here’s how it does the job:

  1. Targeting Bacteria: The blue light penetrates beneath your skin’s surface to zero in on the troublesome bacteria.

  2. Activating Porphyrin: This light activates a compound called porphyrin, which is produced by the bacteria.

  3. Free Radical Action: Once porphyrin is activated, it releases free radicals – these are like tiny warriors on a mission to destroy the bacteria.

  4. Reduced Inflammation: As the bacteria are eliminated, inflammation decreases, leading to an improvement in the appearance of your acne.

Can Blue Light Therapy Really Help with Acne?

Blue light therapy is considered a potential treatment for acne by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Some people have seen significant improvements using this therapy, but it’s essential to know that results can vary from person to person. Blue light therapy is unlikely to completely clear acne, and multiple sessions are typically needed. It may take several weeks after the last treatment before noticeable results occur.

Research on Blue Light Therapy for Acne:

  1. 2011 Study: 30 participants used blue light therapy or a placebo device until their acne lesions disappeared. Those using blue light saw improvements sooner than the placebo group.

  2. 2009 Study: 21 individuals with mild-to-moderate acne used self-administered blue light therapy twice weekly for 5 weeks, resulting in a 64% reduction in acne lesions.

  3. 2004 Study: 28 adults with facial acne received eight sessions of blue light therapy over 4 weeks, leading to a nearly 65% improvement in acne lesions.

  4. Japanese Study: 10 participants with acne on their face or back underwent targeted blue light therapy once or twice a week, resulting in a significant reduction in acne severity for eight of them, with no harmful effects.

  5. Another Study: 33 people with mild-to-moderate facial acne used blue light therapy twice daily for 8 weeks along with specific skincare products. Over 90% reported improvements in overall skin appearance, and 82% were satisfied with the treatment system.

  6. 2013 Study: Half of a group of 35 people in Korea used a light therapy device combining blue and red light twice daily for 4 weeks. Those who used the device experienced a 77% improvement in inflammatory lesions and a 54% improvement in noninflammatory lesions.

It’s important to note that most of this research relies on self-reported outcomes, which may be less reliable than clinical test results. However, these findings suggest that blue light therapy could be a beneficial option for managing acne. Individual results may vary, so consulting with a healthcare professional for personalized acne treatment advice is essential.

Advantages of Blue Light Therapy for Acne

Blue light therapy is a promising option for treating acne, and here’s why it’s a good choice:

  1. Effectiveness: Blue light rays target and eliminate the acne-causing P. acnes bacteria. They also reduce inflammation in the skin’s outer-layer cells called keratinocytes.

  2. Safety: When administered by a trained professional, blue light therapy is a safe acne treatment.

  3. Low Risk: Unlike some other treatments, it’s unlikely to result in long-term complications or adverse side effects.

  4. No Medications: Blue light therapy doesn’t require antibiotics or drugs, making it appealing for those who prefer drug-free solutions.

  5. Versatility: It can treat acne on various body areas, giving you flexibility in your treatment.

  6. Compatibility: You can use it alongside most other acne therapies, allowing for a combined approach to managing acne.

  7. Scar-Free: Unlike invasive treatments, blue light therapy doesn’t cause scarring, so your skin’s appearance remains preserved.

Blue Light Therapy for Other Conditions

Blue light therapy has uses beyond treating acne:

  1. Actinic Keratosis and Skin Cancer Prevention: When combined with a medication called aminolevulinic acid (ALA or Levulan), blue light therapy can lower the risk of skin cancer. ALA is applied to the skin, and the blue light activates it.

  2. Circadian Rhythm Regulation: Blue light helps regulate our circadian rhythms or body clocks. Melanopsin, a light-sensitive receptor, responds strongly to blue light. Some people believe exposure to blue light can manage sleep disorders by regulating these rhythms. Blue light from sunlight and artificial sources may help with conditions like seasonal affective disorder.

  3. Psoriasis Treatment: According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), small studies suggest blue light therapy can improve mild-to-moderate psoriasis symptoms, especially in individuals with pale to light brown skin.

Is Blue Light Therapy Safe?

Blue light therapy is generally safe when used correctly. It usually doesn’t cause long-term issues. But, there are some small possible side effects:

  1. Dry skin
  2. Skin color changes
  3. Stinging or itching
  4. Irritation

Luckily, these side effects usually go away quickly.

Important: Don’t use blue light therapy if you have porphyria, a rare blood condition that makes your skin super sensitive to light. Also, avoid it if you have lupus or are allergic to porphyrins.

If you use blue light therapy while taking light-sensitive medicines, you might become extra sensitive to sunlight for 2-3 days. This could lead to irritation and peeling.

Cost and Insurance for Blue Light Therapy

If you’re curious about how much blue light therapy costs and whether insurance covers it, here’s a simple breakdown:

Cost: The price of blue light therapy for acne can vary. On average, one session can range from $40 to $1,500, with a full treatment package typically including multiple weekly sessions. The number of sessions you need depends on your acne’s severity and how your skin responds. Some folks might see results with just two to four sessions. After improvement, monthly sessions can help maintain results. 

Insurance Coverage: It’s important to know that Medicare and most insurance plans usually don’t cover the cost of light therapy for acne. So, you’ll likely need to pay for these treatments yourself.

Before starting blue light therapy, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider and insurance company to figure out the best way to manage the expenses.

Trying Blue Light Therapy at Home

You can buy blue light therapy gadgets online for home use. They can be handy for mild acne. But remember, they’re not as strong as the ones at the doctor’s office. Also, they can be expensive and might not work for everyone.

When you use these products, be sure to follow the instructions from the manufacturer closely to get the best results and stay safe. Personally I use the popular LED light therapy mask called Cleopatra LED Mask, which is not expensive but effective for treating my acnes.

Learn more: Best At-Home Light Therapy Devices


1. How long does a session of blue light acne treatment take?

A typical session lasts between 15 to 30 minutes. The time may vary depending on the treated area. Most people need multiple sessions, usually over several weeks.

2. How many blue light treatments do I need?

It varies, but most people require around 10 to 12 sessions to see improvement. These are typically scheduled twice a week over 5 to 6 weeks.

3. How should I prepare for a blue light acne treatment session?

No special preparation is needed. Just make sure to remove makeup and skincare products from the treated area before the session. Also, avoid excessive sun exposure before and after treatment.

4. Do I need maintenance for blue light acne treatment?

Yes, periodic maintenance sessions may be necessary to maintain results. The frequency will depend on your acne severity and individual needs.

Looking for professional skincare advice? Schedule an online consultation with dermatologist Dr. Ava Patel to address your concerns.

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