LED therapy to treat acne

Light emitting diode (LED) therapy has been gaining popularity for use in treating multiple dermatological conditions. As such, the accompanying research has also been gaining traction, with many positive results being reported.

LED light stimulation causes natural photobiochemical reactions to occur in the skin. The biochemical processes will have different effects on the skin depending on the wavelength of light used. Some of the noted effects include antibacterial activity, stimulating regeneration, and reducing inflammation. The application of LED therapy in dermatology ranges from anti-aging therapy, psoriasis, wound healing, and dermatitis.

LED therapy has also demonstrated positive results in treating mild to moderate acne (1-4). In a recent review of scientific studies using LED to treat a range of skin conditions, researchers provided evidence-based recommendations for the therapeutic use of LEDs in dermatology (5). They put together these recommendations based on the results of clinical efficacy and safety data.

Use of LED therapy to treat acne

A total of eight randomized controlled clinical trials specifically assessed the use of LED to treat Acne Vulgaris. These studies reported reductions in total lesion count by up to 77 percent, in addition to reductions in the size of the lesions.

According to the review, the recommendations for treatment of acne were use of LED (blue light at 6-40mW/cm2 or red light at 8-100mW/cm2). The study recommends 20-minute treatment sessions, twice per week for four to eight weeks, as a protocol to safely and effectively reduce both the amount of acne and the associated inflammation.

Clinical evidence supports the use of LED therapy to treat acne vulgaris. The treatments were safe and only mild side-effects were reported, which included dryness, pigment changes, redness, peeling, and stinging. There were no severe adverse events reported following LED therapy for the treatment of acne. The authors of the study also suggest that LED therapy might be a good option for pregnant women with acne since retinoid treatments aren’t recommended during pregnancy.

Related resources:

Wilderman Medical Cosmetic Clinic offers LED therapy services in Ontario. For more information visit their website.


  1. Lee SY, You CE, Park MY. (2007). Blue and red light combination LED phototherapy for acne vulgaris in patients with skinphoto type IV. Lasers Surg Med. Feb;39(2):180-8.
  2. Tremblay JF, Sire DJ, Lowe NJ, Moy RL. (2006). Light-emitting diode 415nm in the treatment of inflammatory acne: an open-label, multicentric, pilot investigation. J Cosmet Laser Ther. Apr;8(1):31-3.
  3. Goldberg DJ, Russell BA. (2006). Combination blue (415nm) and red (613nm) LED phototherapy in the treatment of mild to severe acne vulgaris. J Cosmet Laser Ther. Jun;8(2):71-5.
  4. Morton CA, Scholefield RD, Whitehurst C, Birch J. (2005). An open study to determine the efficacy of blue light in the treatment of mild to moderate acne. J Dermatolog Treat. 2005;16(4):219-23.
  5. Jagdeo A, Austin E, Mamalis A, Wong C, Ho D, and Siegel DM. (2018). Light-Emitting Diodes in Dermatology: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 50:613–628
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