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Light Therapies for Acne

A paper published in the Dermatology Research Review sought to evaluate the effects of light-based therapy on acne vulgaris. Reviewing a series of trials that looked at light therapies for acne, it found that:

  • There was little or no difference to the improvement of patients’ acne between 20 percent aminolevulinic acid photodymanic therapy activated by blue light, versus vehicle plus blue light.
  • Twenty percent aminolevulinic acid photodymanic therapy was no more effective than 15 percent, but better than 10 percent and five percent.
  • Methyl aminolevulinate activated by red light had a similar effect on changes in lesion counts, compared with placebo cream with red light.
  • Several studies compared yellow light to placebo or no treatment, infrared light to no treatment, gold-microparticle suspension to vehicle, and clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide combined with pulsed dye laser to clindamycin/benzoyl peroxide alone. None of these showed any clinically significant effects.

The review concluded that carefully planned studies using standardised outcome measures and common acne treatments as comparators are needed.


Barbaric, J., Abbott, R., Posadzki, P., Car, M., Gunn, L.H., Layton, A.M., Majeed, A. & Car, J. (2017), Light therapies for acne: abridged Cochrane systematic review including GRADE assessments. Br J Dermatol. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1111/bjd.15495

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