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When you suffer from acne, it's usually a product of dead skin and oil forming a plug within a pore, according to the Mayo Clinic. For some people, the presence of a plug increases the chances of infection, which can prompt inflammation of the follicle, resulting in a pustule, nodule or cyst under the skin. If left untreated, pustules, nodules and cysts can lead to scarring. But there are treatments available for both acne and subsequent scarring. One such treatment is red and blue light therapy.
When using red and blue light therapy in relation to acne, it's more commonly seen as a method of treatment as opposed to a method of scar removal. This is largely due to the fact that the bacterium responsible for acne is photosensitive. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, molecules within the bacteria absorb the red and blue light when administered to the skin. This increases their internal temperature, causing them to disintegrate and thereby killing the pathogen. Once the pathogen is removed, you should see a decrease in the amount of acne affecting the skin.
Besides ridding the infected pores of the pathogen and reducing the appearance of acne, this form of light therapy can decrease the chances of scarring as a result of this skin condition. In a roundabout way, you're actually treating scars before they're able to form. This doesn't mean that red and blue light therapy can't help improve the appearance of acne scars. It's just more effective to reduce the potential of scarring than removing already formed scars.
If scars have already formed due to acne, it's possible to reduce the signs of scarring with red and blue light therapy, according to the Mayo Clinic. While the light kills bacteria, it can also stimulate the dermal layers of your skin to produce additional collagen, which is a fibrous protein that provides form and firmness to the skin. As collagen is formed, the pockmarks often left by severe cases of acne even out, presenting a smoother appearance and reducing the signs of acne scarring.
The American Academy of Dermatology, however, recommends using light therapy in conjunction with soft fillers to improve the appearance of deep scars left by acne. Soft fillers are substances injected under scars to plump the skin. Hyaluronic acid is probably the most common filler for treating acne scarring, but your dermatologist may suggest donor fat or collagen be used to stretch and even out the skin.
While red and blue light therapy is a far less invasive than other forms of laser or light therapy, there's still the potential of side effects. Most side effects are temporary and not a cause for alarm, but you may experience some redness and flaking to the skin. Contact your doctor if either reaction persists.
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