Does Red Light Therapy Help Psoriasis?

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Psoriasis (PsO) is a condition in which your immune system acts up, causing your skin cells to renew too quickly. This can result in thick, scaly, silverish patches on your skin that may itch, turn red, or hurt.

Red light therapy (RLT), also called low-level laser light therapy, might offer relief from the discomfort of Psoriasis plaques for some people.

If you have moderate to severe Psoriasis plaques or if standard treatments haven’t worked for you, your healthcare team may recommend trying RLT as a treatment option.

What is Red Light Therapy (RLT)?

RLT is a treatment that uses a specific kind of red light on your skin for a set amount of time to kickstart your body’s natural healing process. They use special bulbs called light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or low-power laser diodes that emit light in the range of 620–770 nanometers. These particular wavelengths are believed to have healing benefits. Some people also call this therapy low-level laser light therapy (LLLT).

So, how does it work? It happens inside your cells, mainly in the mitochondria, which are like the power stations of your cells. RLT helps cells absorb red light, which then boosts the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your main energy source. It also improves blood flow and activates stem cells, which help in tissue repair and healing.

Think of RLT as your morning coffee for your cells – it wakes them up and gets them going.

According to a 2013 study, RLT may also have cosmetic benefits for your skin, such as:

  1. Increasing skin elasticity by boosting collagen production.
  2. Promoting the production of fibroblasts, which help make collagen and tissues.
  3. Enhancing blood flow and circulation.
  4. Protecting cells from further damage.
  5. Improving skin texture, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
  6. Easing erythema (that pinkish skin tone) and skin pigmentation issues.

This clinical trial also found that RLT could make your skin look younger, improve your complexion, and make your skin texture better.

It’s important to know that everyone’s response to Psoriasis (PsO) treatments, including RLT, can be different. Most research on RLT for PsO has been done with small groups of people, so we need more research.

Red Light Therapy

How Does Red Light Therapy Help Treat Psoriasis?

Red light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses the power of light to trigger helpful processes in your skin, providing therapeutic benefits. So, why red light? Well, it’s all about the type of light. Red light has a longer wavelength than colors like blue or green, and this extra length lets it penetrate deeper into your skin’s layers, reaching the cells and tissues that need attention. This is especially crucial for conditions like psoriasis, where skin issues often hide in the deeper layers.

The best part about red light therapy is that it doesn’t produce heat or burning sensations. Instead, it gently boosts blood flow to aid in healing. As Dr. Henry, a medical expert, explains, “This interaction enhances cellular energy production and triggers an anti-inflammatory response.” When it comes to psoriasis, red light therapy aims to regulate the abnormal growth of skin cells and calm down the inflammation linked to the condition. It’s like a gentle yet effective treatment that targets the root causes of psoriasis.

Learn more:

Red Light Therapy and Psoriasis: What Does the Research Say?

In a study from 2011 published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, researchers looked into how Red Light Therapy (RLT) compared to Blue Light Therapy in people with psoriasis. Here’s what they discovered:

Participants got intense treatments three times a week for four weeks. During these sessions, they used a 10 percent salicylic acid solution on their psoriasis patches.

So, what did they find? Well, both red and blue light therapies worked well for treating psoriasis. When it came to reducing scaling and toughening of the skin, there wasn’t a big difference between the two treatments. However, blue light therapy was a bit better at reducing erythema, which is reddened skin.

It’s important to remember that these treatments were given at high doses in a medical setting. The results could be quite different if you’re thinking about doing therapy at home, in a salon, or at a wellness center.

Who Should Consider Light Therapy for Psoriasis?

If you have moderate to severe psoriasis and topical treatments aren’t working, your dermatologist might recommend light therapy.

However, light therapy may not be right for everyone. It might not be suitable if you:

  • Take medications that make your skin more sensitive to light, like antihistamines or antifungal drugs.
  • Have a history of skin cancer or are at high risk for it.
  • Have conditions like lupus or porphyria that make you extra sensitive to light.
  • Experience other problems with light sensitivity.

Before starting phototherapy, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional about any supplements or medications you’re currently using. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, UVB therapy might be a safer option.

Possible Side Effects of Light Therapy

Light therapy can help with certain skin conditions, but it’s essential to be aware of potential side effects. Here’s what you should know:

  1. Sensitivity Considerations: Depending on your sensitivity to UV light, your doctor may or may not recommend light therapy.

  2. Possible Side Effects: Even if you’re not sensitive, you might experience some side effects, like:

    • Mild sunburn.
    • Skin stinging or itching.
    • Changes in your skin, such as dark spots or wrinkles.
    • Blisters.
    • A higher risk of skin cancer over time.
  3. Safety Recommendations: If you’re doing PUVA therapy, it’s best to limit it to 150 sessions to lower the risk of skin cancer. A similar precaution may apply to UVB therapy, but ongoing research is still figuring this out.

  4. Regular Reviews: If you’re getting UVB treatment, make sure to have a checkup after about 500 sessions.

  5. Gentler Option: Blue-light treatment is less likely to cause skin cancer or premature aging because it doesn’t emit UV rays.

Always talk to your healthcare provider about potential side effects and safety precautions before starting any light therapy.

Where Can You Access Red Light Therapy for Psoriasis?

The good news is, you have several options for getting red light therapy to treat your psoriasis. You can choose the one that works best for you, depending on your needs and budget. According to Dr. Henry, “Red light therapy is available in professional settings like dermatology clinics and medical spas, as well as through portable devices for at-home use.”

Here are your choices:

  1. Professional Settings: You can go to dermatology clinics and medical spas for in-office light therapy sessions. These sessions typically cost between $75 and $150 each.

  2. At-Home Devices: There are various at-home devices available, including full-body panels and tools designed for specific areas like the hands or face. It’s essential to do some research before choosing a device. Make sure it’s cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure safety and effectiveness. While at-home devices can be a bit expensive (ranging from $100 to over $1000 for a full-body panel), many brands offer payment plans, and some may even be covered by your insurance. I recommend using Cleopatra LED Mask, which is not expensive but very effective.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but it’s important to explore your options and make an informed decision that fits your preferences and budget.

Safety and Potential Risks of Red Light Therapy for Psoriasis

The good news is that red light therapy is generally safe for treating psoriasis when done right. It’s a non-invasive and non-heating treatment that’s known to effectively relieve symptoms of various skin conditions, including psoriasis.

However, there are some minor side effects to be aware of. Some people might experience slight skin redness or temporary dryness, but these effects usually go away quickly on their own.

Dr. Garshick, an expert in the field, highlights a few key safety points:

  1. Eye Protection: It’s crucial to protect your eyes when using red light therapy. Always use safety goggles or the appropriate eye protection to avoid any potential eye harm.

  2. Medication Considerations: Be mindful of any medications you’re taking that might make your skin more sensitive to light. Some drugs, like certain antibiotics, antidepressants (e.g., Zoloft and Elavil), antihistamines (e.g., Claritin), cholesterol drugs (e.g., Zocor and Lipitor), some diuretics (e.g., Microzide), ibuprofen, and retinoids, can have this effect.

By taking these precautions and staying informed, you can enjoy the potential benefits of red light therapy for your psoriasis while minimizing any risks. Your safety always comes first!

Other Types of Light Therapy for Psoriasis

If you’re thinking about light therapy for psoriasis, there are choices besides red light therapy. Dr. Henry mentions a few other light-based treatments:

  1. Excimer Laser: This laser emits focused UVB light, precisely targeting the affected skin areas while protecting the healthy skin around them. It’s a precise way to treat psoriasis.

  2. PUVA Therapy: PUVA therapy combines psoralen medication with UVA light exposure. Psoralen is a drug that makes the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet A (UVA) light. This combination is effective for managing psoriasis symptoms.

  3. UVB Phototherapy: UVB light therapy involves controlled exposure to UVB light. This controlled exposure helps slow down the excessive growth of skin cells, a key feature of psoriasis.

Each of these therapies has its own way of dealing with psoriasis, so it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to figure out which option might be best for your specific situation and needs. There are various treatments available to effectively manage psoriasis.


Here are some simple and easy-to-read answers to common questions about light therapy for psoriasis:

1. Does Light Therapy Work for Psoriasis?

Yes, light therapy can help with severe plaques, widespread plaque psoriasis, nail, scalp, and palmoplantar psoriasis. However, its effectiveness can vary depending on the type and extent of treatment.

2. What Kind of Light Therapy is Best for Psoriasis?

It’s best to consult a dermatologist to determine the most suitable light therapy for your psoriasis. They will consider factors like your symptoms, history of skin cancer, medication use, and other relevant details. Psoralen with UVA (PUVA) is effective but may have more side effects.

3. Do Blue or Red Lights Work for Psoriasis?

Blue and red lights don’t emit UV rays, making them gentler options for psoriasis treatment. Some studies suggest that blue light may be more effective than red light. Also, wearable blue light devices are now approved for treating mild psoriasis at home.

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

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