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Acne has been such a common problem for so long that you’d think we’d know how to prevent it, or at least get rid of breakouts relatively quickly. The fact is, acne is a challenge for patients and also for doctors. It doesn’t help that there are so many commercial products available to reduce the effects of acne. When these products fail to achieve noticeable improvement, many people feel stuck. They feel out of luck. Here, we want to shed light on a clinical acne treatment that can clean the slate of the skin for lasting health.

Treating Acne with Light

There are multiple aspects of an acne breakout. For acne to occur, there is a perfect storm of excess oil production, enlarged pores, and an accumulation of oil, dirt, and skin cells in those pores. Already in existence in pores is a type of bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). Trapped by debris, these bacteria create inflammation and swelling that then become bumps, pimples, or cysts.

Doctors discovered long ago that light could destroy the bacteria that cause acne. However, early treatments involved targeting the skin with UV light. At the time, the imminent danger of ultraviolet light was not well understood. Thankfully, we know now that UV light may clear acne but will also cause skin cancer. Now, we use different wavelengths of light, those that have a proven effect on the P. acnes bacteria without posing a threat to the skin.

How Photodynamic Therapy Works

Photodynamic therapy isn’t your average light treatment. For photodynamic therapy to work efficiently and safely, the patient must agree to avoid tanning of any kind beginning at least one week before treatment begins. Because photosensitizing agents may be included in treatment, UV exposure should be limited until the process is complete. Sometimes, a series of weekly treatments is scheduled to reach optimal improvement in skin health and appearance.

Light therapy treatments may take between 15 and 30 minutes. In clinical studies, patients who had undergone a series of 8 to 10 treatments noticed up to 70% reduction in swelling and active acne.

Start your New Year in the clear. Call our Westport, CT office at (203) 226-3600 to schedule a dermatologic consultation for acne.

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