TRUTHS AND MYTHS ABOUT BLUE LIGHT THERAPY
Bachelor of Science
Apart from it being my favourite colour, blue light can also do wonders for the skin! To be more precise blue light can do wonders by preventing complications that can ravage your skin. If the words acne & school in combination do not give you an anxiety attack then you are lucky – you did not have to experience the fear and the very real possibility of waking up every morning with Mount Everest on your face!
Blue light has been shown to penetrate the skin's hair follicles and pores which harbor bacteria and can cause inflammation, and therefore acne. The below diagram perfectly illustrates what can go wrong in the events leading up to the formation of acne.
One thing I need to make clear here is that these particular bacteria are not usually the troublemaker types. It is only when the oil gland is blocked, stopping the sebum from reaching the surface that the bacteria get all rowdy and proliferate leading to the inflamed pimple. Sebum is a one component of the oil on the surface of the skin. Sweat, lipids and environmental material make up the rest of it.
So when you blast these little suckers with the blue light it effectively reduces their numbers which in turn reduces the swelling/inflammation so that your skin can begin its healing and repairing process. For those of you that are seeking the R-rated guts and gory details of the killing mechanism- the bacteria naturally release something called porphyrins. When this compound absorbs blue light, free radical damage is produced via oxidation, and this is what destroys the bacteria.
The neat thing is that not only can you use blue light to attack existing abominations on your face but it can be used as a preventative measure – That’s right! It can be used to control the condition before an outbreak occurs. You see, unlike some topical treatments which only work to decrease inflammation and bacteria on or near the surface of the skin, blue light treatment eliminates the acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium) deeper within the skin before it can feed off the oil glands and cause that redness and inflammation.
Sound too good to be true? Well it isn’t!:) errr… I mean it is too good but it is still true nevertheless. And what is even more exciting is the fact that it is perfectly harmless, painless with no side effects unlike most typical drugs used to eradicate this condition. For severe cases you can even couple this with other treatments. For instance, a very popular and highly effective cream has been formulated to drastically reduce the P. acne’s food source by normalising the excessive oil production secreted by the sebaceous gland. So when blue light is used in conjunction with this cream you not only murder most of these bacteria but you starve them to death as well:)
Believe it or not, I am not the only person in the whole world that has discovered the amazing benefits of blue light! Let us take a look at some of the studies that show moderate evidence for the efficacy of blue light treatments for people with mild to moderate acne.
In a 2002 clinical trial where acne patients were treated twice a week for up to 5 weeks, results showed a 64% reduction in damaged tissue caused by acne. This trial also showed that irradiating Propionibacterium acne (which was isolated from the participants) with blue light reduced their numbers significantly.
A June 2003 study showed a staggering 80% and above response rate to blue light with a significant reduction of about 60% of inflammatory acne related damaged tissue after only 8 treatments of very short duration. They stated that blue light therapy is “PROVEN TO BE AN ATTRACTIVE, FAST, EFFECTIVE, NON-INVASIVE ALTERNATIVE TO CURRENT TOPICAL ANTI-ACNE REMEDIES.”
You need more proof? Still do not believe? Well if I haven’t convinced you yet, then this next study certainly will. The below image is of a 28-year old male patient who participated in a study done on the Clinical Efficacy of Self-applied Blue Light Therapy for Mild-to-Moderate Facial Acne back in 2009.
Image 5a). Before treatment
Image 5b). After the eight-week blue-light treatment period. The total number of damaged tissue caused by acne had reduced by 94 percent. The number of blackheads was reduced by 100 percent, the number of whiteheads was reduced by 100 percent, and the number of raised swollen, red bumps was reduced by 84 percent (papules).
Treating and abolishing acne is not the only trick up blue-light’s sleeve, blue light therapy impressively treats many other ailments. According to both Vincent Liu and Brian L. Swick, both medical doctors at the University of Iowa, blue-light therapy is warding off skin cancer! The treatment being used by top dermatologists there which was originally pioneered in Europe is referred to as solar keratosis. The therapy works by applying a light-sensitizing chemical solution to the skin area that needs treatment and then exposing the area to blue light.
In addition to treating skin conditions and cancer, blue light therapy can also be used as a treatment for depression, sleep disorders, is also a well-known method of reducing jaundice in newborn babies.
TODAY’S QUIRKY TRIVIA
Have you noticed that at night-time you can only see the colours white, grey and black when the light is very dim?
No, you are not going colour blind silly!
It is because we have two types of photoreceptors, one operates as described above
and the other only detects colours such as blue when the light is bright enough.