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‘Light’ amidst a skin of angst!

Acne is one of the most common skin issues. Nobody likes waking up to an unsightly zit on their face. For a permanent solution, as opposed to temporary make-up fixes and creams; Acne blue light treatment is the answer.  Blue light (400 - 470nm) has acne healing properties. This light-based therapy is a great relief in improvising acne treatment, in order to counteract the side effects of conventional medicines.

Treatment: It is a hassle free procedure. The skin is cleansed with a mild, soap free cleanser and eyes protected with opaque goggles. Treatment time ranges from 8 - 20 minutes depending upon the intensity of pimples. Acne blue light therapy is conducted under supervision of qualified dermatologists twice weekly for six to eight weeks.

Why acne aggravates: Propionibacterium acnes is a bacteria that draws all attention. Hormones stimulate the oil glands in skin. This makes dead cells sticky. So, there is a blockage of pores with retention of excessively secreted sebum within the skin. This sebum is a good food for bacteria and hence thrives in this setting – giving rise to acne of varying severity. These bacteria synthesis photoexcitable molecules, Porphyrins. Prophyrins absorb light of 400 - 700 nm wavelength with absorption peak of 415 nm. Blue light (405-420nm) excites porphyrins, which subsequently produce singlet oxygen species and free radicals, which destroy the bacteria. It also reduces pimples associated with redness, pain or discomfort by acting on keratinocytes, the skin's outer layer cells. Thus, blue light treatment not only destroys the bacteria involved in acne formation but also helps healing of pimples. Comedones, which are commonly referred as black heads and white heads are less responsive to this treatment when compared to red, inflamed or pus containing pimples. 

Post treatment care: This therapy has minimal downtime. People can resume their routine activities immediately. Applying a sunscreen, which provides protection against UVA as well as UVB rays, is mandatory. Very rarely, mild redness may happen which resolves in few minutes. The duration and cost of conventional anti-acne treatment often reduces when this is combined with regular therapy protocol. This also aids in faster resolution of stubborn pimples. US FDA has approved some home care devices which emit the blue light for acne control. These can be used safely at home by individuals affected with pimples.

Considering the early age of onset of acne, it's prolonged nature, need for faster clearance of acne and reducing the side effects of internal medications, blue light based therapies are great relief for the affected lot!

The writer is a Bengaluru-based senior skin consultant- dermatologist.

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