Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy is a light-based treatment that is effective in treating acne and helping to prevent the development of cancerous skin cells in patients with actinic keratosis.
Photodynamic Therapy for the Treatment of Acne
Photodynamic Therapy (or blue light therapy) can be used to kill acne-causing bacteria and treat redness and swelling, as well as shrink sebaceous (oil) glands, reducing oil production.
It is often used for those who suffer from acne and whose skin cannot tolerate prescription topicals or antibiotics, as well as those who desire an effective acne treatment.
Pulsed light and heat energy from the blue light wavelength kills bacteria on top of and below the surface of the skin by injuring the targeted cells and tissues so they die and may be cleaned from the skin. It also causes oil producing sebaceous glands to shrink, helping to prevent acne-inducing clogged pores.
It has also been used successfully to improve the appearance of acne scars. The use of PDT in the treatment of acne is considered a cosmetic treatment, and is not covered by insurance plans.
Photodynamic Therapy for the Treatment of Actinic Keratosis and Thin-Skin Cancers
Blue-light photodynamic therapy is used to treat actinic keratosis, a scaly skin condition that can develop into skin cancer, and thin-skin cancers.
Some treatments use strictly blue light and some involve a combination of red and blue lighting.
Once the treated area is healed, it will be re-examined and any additional treatments or biopsies will be completed as needed.
There are three steps to PDT treatment. Your dermatologist will first apply or inject a light-sensitizing drug to the treatment site. Next, there is an incubation period 90 minutes, allowing the drug to bind with the precancerous (or even cancerous) cells. In the final stage of treatment, the target area is exposed to a specific wavelength of light that activates the photosensitizing medication, which in turn releases energy to destroy the target cells.
Risks of Photodynamic Therapy
Photodynamic therapy is a safe dermatology procedure and is recommended for those with lighter or fair skin. Patients with darker skin tones may experience skin discoloration at the treatment site and those who are sensitive to light or burn easily are also not good candidates for the procedure.
Medications that make you more sensitive to sunlight should be avoided before this procedure and afterwards patients must avoid sunlight for about two days. The resulting irritation of the skin following the treatment can be moderate to severe, but typically resolves within 2 weeks.