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How to Use Red Light Therapy

There are many ways in which light is used to affect the human body, from strobe lights to tanning beds. It can also be used to heal. One of the more recent developments in light treatments is red light therapy. Originally developed by NASA in the 1950s, the public can now benefit from this therapy as well, for a range of conditions. For instance, the University of California's "Dermatology Journal Online" reports benefits in the treatment of acne 1.

Choose your red light therapy device. They range in size from lipstick-shaped hand-held lights to large, tabletop lamps. The former are for targeting skin conditions such as acne and cold sores, while the latter tend to be for muscle complaints. Ensure that the device is FDA-approved.

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Remove any makeup or other skin products before using red light therapy. Do not leave any products on your skin. (You can moisturize after the treatment is complete.)

Place the light source over the affected area. The small, hand-held devices come with a filter so that you can place the device on your skin. Hold the larger devices a couple of inches from the skin. For instance, hold larger hand-held devices intended to relieve muscle pain in the legs away from the skin and move up and down the legs, a little like a metal-detection baton at the airport. For larger areas, the sufferer may sit in front of a table-top device with several light sources or lie under a long light source.

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Apply the red light therapy for a duration applicable to the ailment 2. Small devices for facial skin complaints are typically deployed for 1 minute three times a day. For other treatments, such as for muscle pain, a common duration would be a daily dose of two 5-minute sessions, with a break of 3 minutes in between.

Understand how the red light therapy works. Red light has the longest light waves of any colored light. This means it penetrates deeper into the skin. As such, you will feel a slight warming of the skin that is being treated.


Be aware that red light therapy does not offer immediate resolution. However, with regular treatments, users should see improvements after 30 days or so.