There are so many pills, creams, treatments and cleansers that claim to be the cure-all for acne out there, and it can get confusing, expensive and disappointing when they don’t work.
One such treatment that many people swear by is light therapy treatment.
It’s the treatment of the stars that boasts a potential solution to troublesome skin, keeping your constant desire to hide under layers of make-up at bay.
But how do you know if it’s the right option for you? And with blue and red light therapy both available – which is the most effective? Do they work in conjunction, or separately?
We have lots of questions, so we consulted dermatologist Dr Garry Cussell, owner of Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia, to find out the ins-and-outs of light therapy for acne treatment.
First off, Dr Cussell, who has been a doctor for 42 years and a physician for 20, explained that acne is a “very complex situation”, adding that light therapy treatment may not work for everyone.
“We don’t want people to believe that simply buying a phototherapy blue light or red light, or even going to a salon, is going to do a lot of things because there are so many factors to do with the control and management of acne,” Dr Cussell said, in reference to the at-home masks available for purchase.
“We still have problems controlling many people’s acne, and a lot of people get very frustrated when they’re trying something that’s given a lot of promise and it doesn’t clear up their skin.”
What exactly is light therapy, and how does it work?
“It originated in the ’90s,” Dr Cussell said.
“The big breakthrough was the discovery that acne’s bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes for short) – the main bacteria involved with the inflammation and infection and therefore the soreness in acne – can be killed with the blue light, a non invasive light, and not ultraviolet, so it doesn’t cause any damage.
“It basically oxidises a chemical in the cell wall of the bacteria and kills the bacteria, so when that was discovered it started to be used, and there have been a lot of variations since then.”
What about red light therapy?
“The red light is used in the same way, but it doesn’t kill the bacteria – it reduces the inflammation and the redness associated with it so helps with the healing process. We use them in conjunction,” Dr Cussell explained.
“So basically, the blue light is very effective in killing the main offending organism in causing acne inflammation, which can often cause scarring and pigmentation, and the red light phototherapy, in a different wavelength, helps with inflammation and also promotes healing with a little bit of collagen.”
What does the collagen do?
“People overemphasise the fact that it uses a lot of collagen. It’s just an aid in improving the speed of healing, so it does help reduce scarring,” Dr Cussell said.