Expert Doctor

Acne Blue Light Therapy

Deirdre Hooper, MD

New Orleans, LA

Acne Blue Light Therapy

Acne blue light therapy is a type of colored light therapy used to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria that causes acne on the skin. Blue light therapy is a specific wavelength of light that does not penetrate the skin deeply and is found in the visible light spectrum. Unlike laser treatments, acne blue light therapy is an LED light and is non-coherent. This means it spreads out like a flashlight shown on a wall rather than a coherent laser light which is a powerful beam of “collimated” light that does not spread. Acne blue light therapy improves the appearance of the skin and works best when used in combination with other medicinal treatments for acne.

Am I a Good Candidate for Acne Blue Light Therapy?

GOOD CANDIDATES for acne blue light therapy are:

  • Men or women suffering with inflammatory acne or mild acne outbreaks such as red bumps and white heads
  • Patients with papules (a small round growth that is elevated off the skin) and pustules (a small pimple that contains pus)
  • Any patient who is embarrassed or self-conscious about the condition of their skin
  • A patient using prescription medication for inflammatory acne
  • Patients with all skin types or tones
  • A patient with sun spots, malignant skin cancer growths and acne scars

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for blue light acne therapy:

  • Patients with comedones or clogged hair follicles in the skin
  • Patients with cysts or a cavity that contains fluid
  • Patients who are taking Accutane
  • Patients with a blood disorder such as lupus

How is Acne Blue Light Therapy Performed?

Acne blue light therapy is performed in a doctor or dermatologist’s office and takes between 20 to 30 minutes. The doctor will place a light source close to the face but the patient does not usually feel any discomfort from the light exposure. The blue light penetrates the skin’s hair follicles and pores to target the acne-causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium, or P acnes, which cause inflammation. The P acnes are sensitive to the blue light spectrum which shuts down their metabolism. Therefore, using the blue light can destroy the bacteria found in the oil glands of the skin and decrease the inflammation associated with red pimples or papules.

Some doctors add an infrared light, or red light, as a source of heat to reduce inflammation and cause the oil glands to shrink in size. The reduction of oil in the skin, along with bacteria, helps to clear the skin of acne in a faster manner. Furthermore, the red light can help stimulate collagen for smoother and tighter skin.

Alternative Treatment

Alternative treatments for acne conditions include:

Prescription Creams – When working alone, prescription creams can take a while to work but they improve the skin quicker with the help of blue light therapy.

Laser Therapy and Chemical Peels – These treatments can be light or very aggressive since they create a controlled wound by removing the outer layer or layers of skin.

What is the Cost of Acne Blue Light Therapy?

Blue light acne therapy costs about $50-$100 for an individual treatment session. Most patients need multiple sessions until the desired goal is met. Some doctors offer a package deal for around $500-$1000 for a treatment plan involving a set number of sessions.

Recovery and Downtime

Acne blue light therapy is a very safe procedure which is quick and easy and typically does not have any RECOVERY OR DOWNTIME. The treatment does not usually cause side effects such as irritation, redness or swelling. In rare cases, a patient may develop redness with swelling and blistering. Patients should not attempt to pop blisters or else a secondary infection may occur. Nevertheless, patients can resume all activities and work directly after a treatment.


While the results are not immediate, patients can usually see some improvement within 48 to 72 hours after blue light acne therapy. The pimples will not be eliminated with one treatment but they should be less inflamed and the skin should not look as red as it was before the treatment. The skin will continue to improve over the course of the treatment and there should be a significant decrease in the number of acne lesions. Furthermore, the skin should look clearer and regain its normal appearance after several treatments. The number of treatments needed to attain the desired results depends on the severity of the acne. Once the goal has been met, the effects of acne blue light therapy can last for several months. To maintain the results, patients often need monthly touch-up treatments.

Limitations of Acne Blue Light Therapy

The limitations of acne blue light therapy include:

  • The larger cost of repeated sessions
  • Its modest ability to treat blackheads and cysts
  • Its ability to treat moderate to severe acne without the use of other acne treatments

Risks of Acne Blue Light Therapy

The risks involved with acne blue light therapy include:

  • Pinkness or redness of the treatment area
  • Slight swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Blistering
  • Skin infection if post treatment blisters are popped
  • The possible risk of sun damage from the visible light spectrum

Safe for all Skin Types

Acne blue light therapy is a non-invasive procedure which can effectively treat bacteria that causes acne and inflammation. It can also treat sun damaged skin, brown spots, acne scarring and precancerous or cancerous skin lesions that haven’t metastasized. Acne blue light therapy is safe for any skin type and this includes pregnant or breastfeeding women. Furthermore, there are little to no risks and patients may resume all activities after treatment. Prospective patients should contact a board-certified doctor or dermatologist to find out if acne blue light therapy will benefit their skin condition.

Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- MA

Based on an exclusive interview with Deirdre Hooper, MD in New Orleans, LA