Colored light sources paving way for new office, home-based skin devices

Scientists have suggested that just like lasers, even non-laser lights could be useful in treating common skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and aging skin.

In fact, lights of different colors are being used in several in-office and at-home therapies that offer consumers an alternative to more expensive laser treatments, but all may not be equally effective.

“Non-laser light treatments for the skin can be more affordable than laser treatments – an appealing benefit that makes them more accessible to a larger number of people,” said dermatologist Murad Alam, of the Northwestern University, Chicago.

“While lights offer technology similar to professional laser treatments, not all home devices deliver visible results,” he said.

“Although blue-light therapy is not as effective as oral antibiotics in clearing active acne, it appears to offer some degree of improvement for patients who are not good candidates for traditional acne therapies. However, in-office treatments must be administered up to three times per week to be effective,” said Alam.

Recently, some light-based treatments for acne have been introduced as over-the-counter devices for patients to use at home. Alam cautioned that the at-home devices have a small size opening through which the light passes, making them impractical for treating large areas of acne. The device also must be held steady for an extended period to treat one area of active acne, which can be difficult.

In addition, dermatologists are investigating red light (in the range of 600 – 950nm) therapy to treat acne, rosacea and wrinkles.

“There are a handful of office-based and at-home red-light devices being marketed to offer improvement in the appearance of aging skin, but more definitive research is needed before we can determine the effectiveness of this therapy,” said Alam.

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Green-light therapy is another of the colored light treatments and is used in combination with red and yellow lights that may alter skin functioning. More research into this technology is needed.

“When light of wavelengths in the range of 532 – 595nm, or green to yellow, is used on the skin, it can reduce skin redness in some patients with age-related central facial redness and blood vessels, or rosacea,” added Alam.

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