Light Therapy for Acne - Dangers, Risks & Side Effects

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In order to decide whether light therapy is the right procedure to deal with your acne it is wise to look at the bad as well as the good. Understanding the possible side effects is very important to making an informed decision about the treatment. Unfortunately, light therapy is a reasonably new treatment and very little research has been done into it. This might mean that some side effects of the therapy simply aren’t known about. The side effects, which are known about, are described below.

Immediate Side Effects of Light Therapy for Acne

One of the most exciting things about laser therapy is that it appears to have almost no side effects. Patients have reported experiencing no side effects at all after treatment. It is a pain-free process and as long as you wear protective dark glasses during treatment it does not cause any immediate harm.

If you opt for PDT (photodynamic treatment), which is laser therapy in conjunction with a photosensitive cream like 5-aminolevulinic acid (known as ALA), you may experience some pain during the procedure. Patients have reported an unpleasant stinging sensation that has put them off returning for further treatments. This is not usual however, most patients say that the treatment stings but is not unbearable.

Short Term Side Effects of Light Therapy for Acne

Light therapy, alone, appears to cause almost not short-term side effects. This means that recovery time is often non-existent. If you have very, very sensitive skin there’s a possibility that you may experience some very minor soreness and redness though this is highly unlikely.

If you have PDT, you may experience more side effects. Redness and soreness is more common after this procedure and peeling skin is also not uncommon. The most important side effect to remember when having this procedure is that the cream does not just make your skin sensitive to light therapy, it will also make your skin sensitive to all light. It is of extreme importance that you wear high-factor sun cream after treatment, even if it is not sunny. It is a good idea to avoid sunlight as much as possible. Exposure to daylight could seriously harm your skin causing irritation, swelling and sunburn which could cause your skin to age more quickly and increases your chance of developing skin cancer.

Long Term Side Effects of Light Therapy for Acne

The problem with light therapy is that, as it is a relatively new procedure, there is no real way of knowing what the long-term side effects are. Current science suggests that the light emitted by light therapy is within the limits of safety. However, some people in the medical profession have concerns that the therapy could cause the skin to age more quickly and could increase the possibility of developing skin cancer. As yet, these fear seem to be unfounded.

The long-term effects of PDT are the same, but the risk to your skin in the long term could be more real, especially if you do not take due care to avoid direct sunlight and rigorously apply high-factor sun cream.

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