A bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes is normally found on everyone’s skin. The bacteria uses sebum to feed on to grow. Sebum is an oily secretion produced by the sebaceous glands found in the skin. Sebum waterproofs the skin and hair and prevents dryness. An excessive amount of sebum can result in oily skin and hair. Since there are higher levels of sebum during puberty, there is a higher occurrence of acne in the teen years.
Acne sufferers have more Propionibacterium acnes in skin follicles. This bacteria brings white blood cells to the follicles. These white blood cells now present in the skin follicles produce enzymes that breaks down the follicle. This allows the bacteria that is in the follicle to lay on the dermis. The result is an inflammatory reaction in the form of pimples. The P. acnes bacteria are also the source of free fatty acids formations which are irritating to the skin and exacerbates the inflammation in the follicle.
The sebum gets clogged in the hair follicle and blocks it. Cells usually sloughed off stick to and block the follicle. This process of follicle blocking is named comedogenesis. This process is the cause of some follicles to produce acne named comedones. Comedones are also called blackheads and whiteheads.
Bacteria that causes acne produces microscopic porphyrins that cause acne inflammation and follicle blocking. Blue light therapy exposes these porphyrins to calibrated wavelengths in the light spectrum. These wavelengths produce free radicals which kill the bacteria. This reduces skin inflammation and prevents acne breakouts while healing the existing acne.
A 405nm to 450nm light spectrum is the ideal range to eliminate bacteria from the skin. Blue light therapy uses two different wavelengths to treat skin inflammation and the resulting acne. The longer the wavelength the deeper it can go into the skin. Deep reach into the skin kills underlying bacteria. The shorter range of the wavelength kills bacteria at the skin surface. Any treatments that use this range of wavelengths will be effective in treating and preventing acne, both deep in the skin and at the surface, for a double treatment of acne prevention and elimination.
Blue light therapy is effective in 20 minute sessions. It is recommended to have treatments several times weekly to aid in eliminating the acne already present. Twice weekly sessions are recommended for acne prevention.
There are no side effects from blue light therapy. Dry skin has been reported rarely but this can be remedied with a simple moisturizing cream. In 2000, tests performed from the British Journal of Dermatology reported blue light therapy in the recommended spectrum was effective for approximately 86% of those exposed to the treatment.
It takes about one week of blue light therapy sessions before changes visible to the eye begin. After one to two weeks changes should be noticeably visible. In week four of treatment, the majority showed a 50-70% reduction in acne. From 4-8 weeks, a 76%-100% reduction in acne can occur.
It is important to remember to use tanning goggles over the eyes to protect them. The light from blue light therapy is bright so it is not advisable to look directly at it. Check with a doctor first if taking any medication that can cause photo-sensitivity.