By Aliki Chatzilias, MSc.
Clinical Biochemist/Medical Researcher

Acne is a common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing physical and emotional distress. Fortunately, advancements in dermatological treatments have introduced LED light therapy as a promising option for managing acne. This article aims to provide a comprehensive step-by-step guide to using LED light therapy for acne treatment. By following this guide, individuals can learn how to incorporate LED therapy into their skincare routine and potentially experience clearer skin and improved self-esteem.


Understanding Acne

  1. Define Acne and its Causes

Acne is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder characterized by the presence of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and sometimes cysts. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria, leading to the formation of acne lesions. The primary causes of acne include excessive sebum production, abnormal follicular keratinization, bacterial colonization, and inflammation. Hormonal imbalances, genetics, and environmental factors also contribute to the development of acne.

  1. Different Types of Acne

Acne manifests in various forms, each requiring specific treatment approaches. The most common types of acne include:

  • Non-inflammatory Acne: This includes open and closed comedones, also known as blackheads and whiteheads, respectively. They form when the hair follicle becomes clogged with oil and dead skin cells, but no significant inflammation is present.
  • Inflammatory Acne: This category comprises papules, pustules, and nodules. Papules are small, red, inflamed bumps, while pustules are papules filled with pus. Nodules are larger, painful, solid lesions occurring deep within the skin.

Understanding the type and severity of acne is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment, including LED light therapy.

  1. Impact of Acne on Self-esteem and Quality of Life

Acne not only affects the physical appearance of an individual but also takes a toll on their psychological well-being. Studies have shown that acne can lead to low self-esteem, social anxiety, depression, and impaired quality of life. Individuals with acne often experience embarrassment, shame, and self-consciousness, affecting their interpersonal relationships and overall happiness. Therefore, finding effective treatments like LED light therapy is essential in addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of acne.


What is LED Light Therapy?

  1. Define LED Light Therapy and its Mechanism of Action

LED light therapy, also known as phototherapy, is a non-invasive and painless treatment that utilizes specific wavelengths of light to target various skin concerns, including acne. LED devices emit light energy in the visible spectrum, primarily in the blue and red light ranges. Blue light (around 415 nm) targets the acne-causing bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes, reducing their population and inflammatory response. Red light (around 630 nm) penetrates deeper into the skin, stimulating cellular activity, promoting healing, and reducing inflammation.

LED light therapy works by activating cellular processes within the skin. The light energy is absorbed by specific molecules, such as chromophores, in skin cells. This absorption triggers biochemical reactions, leading to various therapeutic effects, including the reduction of acne-causing bacteria, inflammation, and sebum production, while promoting skin rejuvenation.

  1. How LED Light Therapy Helps in Acne Treatment

LED light therapy offers several benefits in acne treatment. It effectively targets the underlying causes of acne, such as bacteria and inflammation, without the 

harsh side effects often associated with other acne treatments. The blue light emitted by LED devices specifically targets the P. acnes bacteria, which are responsible for acne breakouts. The light energy penetrates the skin and reaches the sebaceous glands, where the bacteria reside. By exposing the P. acnes bacteria to blue light, their metabolic activity is disrupted, leading to a reduction in their population. Additionally, blue light therapy helps to calm the sebaceous glands, reducing the production of excess sebum, which contributes to clogged pores and acne formation.

On the other hand, red light therapy plays a crucial role in acne treatment by reducing inflammation and promoting skin healing. Acne lesions are often accompanied by redness, swelling, and irritation. The red light penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin, stimulating cellular activity and promoting blood circulation. This increased circulation helps to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the affected areas, aiding in the healing process. Red light therapy also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne breakouts.

By combining blue and red light therapy, LED treatments provide a comprehensive approach to acne management. Blue light targets the bacteria and sebum production, while red light addresses inflammation and promotes skin healing. This dual-action approach makes LED light therapy an effective and well-tolerated treatment option for acne sufferers.

  1. Different Wavelengths Used in LED Light Therapy for Acne

LED light therapy devices offer a range of wavelengths that can be used for acne treatment. The most commonly utilized wavelengths are blue light (around 415 nm) and red light (around 630 nm). Blue light therapy primarily targets the P. acnes bacteria, as mentioned earlier, while red light therapy focuses on reducing inflammation and promoting healing.

It's important to note that different manufacturers may use slightly different wavelengths in their LED devices. However, the overall principle remains the same, with blue light targeting bacteria and sebum production, and red light addressing inflammation and skin rejuvenation. When choosing an LED device for acne treatment, ensure that it provides the necessary wavelengths within the appropriate range for optimal results.


Step-by-Step Guide to Using LED Light Therapy for Acne

Step 1: Consultation with a Dermatologist

Before incorporating LED light therapy into your acne treatment regimen, it is crucial to consult with a dermatologist or a skincare professional. They will assess your skin condition, determine the severity of your acne, and recommend suitable treatment options. A dermatologist can also provide guidance on using LED therapy in combination with other acne treatments, such as topical medications or oral medications, to enhance the overall efficacy of the treatment.

During the consultation, be prepared to discuss your medical history, previous treatments you have tried, and any current skincare products you are using. This information will help the dermatologist tailor the LED light therapy plan to your specific needs.

Step 2: Choosing the Right LED Device

Once you have received professional guidance, it's time to select an LED device for home use. There are various options available on the market, ranging from handheld devices to LED masks. Consider the following factors when choosing an LED device:

Wavelengths: Ensure that the device emits the appropriate wavelengths for acne treatment, particularly blue and red light.

Quality and Safety: Opt for a reputable brand that meets safety standards and has positive customer reviews.

Ease of Use: Look for a device that is user-friendly, with clear instructions and adjustable settings.

Treatment Area: Consider the size and coverage area of the LED device to ensure it can effectively treat the desired areas of your face or body.

Budget: Determine a reasonable budget range and choose a device that falls within that range, balancing cost and quality.

It's worth noting that while at-home LED devices can be convenient for regular use, it is still advisable to consult with a dermatologist to ensure you choose a device that suits your specific needs and skin condition.

Step 3: Preparing the Skin

Before each LED light therapy session, it is important to properly prepare your skin to maximize the treatment's effectiveness. Follow these steps for optimal results:

Cleanse the skin: Start by gently cleansing your face with a mild cleanser to remove any dirt, oil, or makeup. This ensures that the LED light can penetrate the skin without any barriers.

Pat dry: After cleansing, pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Avoid rubbing the towel on your face, as this can cause irritation or redness.

Remove any photosensitive medications or products: If you are using any topical medications or products that make your skin more sensitive to light, such as retinoids or exfoliating acids, it is important to avoid using them prior to LED therapy. These products can increase the risk of skin irritation or photosensitivity reactions when combined with light therapy.

By preparing your skin adequately, you create an optimal environment for the LED light to penetrate and work effectively on your acne.

Step 4: Performing the LED Light Therapy

Now that your skin is prepared, you can begin the LED light therapy session. Follow these guidelines:

Position the device: Hold the LED device or place it on the treatment area, ensuring that the lights are in direct contact with your skin. Some devices come with straps or stands to secure them in place, allowing for hands-free treatment.

Set the time and intensity: Most LED devices have adjustable settings for time and intensity. Follow the instructions provided with your specific device to set the recommended treatment time and intensity level. Start with the lowest intensity and gradually increase it as your skin becomes accustomed to the treatment.

Wear protective eyewear: LED light therapy devices emit bright light that can be harsh on the eyes. To protect your eyes from potential damage, it is important to wear the protective eyewear provided with your LED device or use a suitable alternative recommended by the manufacturer.

Relax and remain consistent: LED light therapy sessions typically last around 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the device and treatment area. During the treatment, relax in a comfortable position and ensure that the device remains in place. Consistency is key with LED therapy, so try to adhere to a regular treatment schedule, following the recommended frequency, whether it's daily or a few times per week.

Step 5: Post-Treatment Care

After completing your LED light therapy session, it's important to take care of your skin to optimize the results and minimize any potential side effects. Follow these post-treatment care guidelines:

Moisturize: Apply a gentle, non-comedogenic moisturizer to replenish moisture and keep your skin hydrated. Look for products specifically formulated for acne-prone skin.

Sun protection: LED light therapy does not typically cause sun sensitivity, but it's always important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before going outside, even on cloudy days.

Avoid harsh skincare products: To avoid potential irritation or disruption of the skin's barrier, avoid using harsh exfoliants, scrubs, or aggressive acne treatments immediately after LED therapy.

Maintain a consistent skincare routine: LED light therapy works best as part of a comprehensive skincare routine. Continue to cleanse, moisturize, and use other acne treatments as recommended by your dermatologist.

By following these post-treatment care steps, you can support the healing process and maintain the benefits of LED light therapy for acne.


Additional Tips for Enhancing the Effectiveness of LED Light Therapy

In addition to following the step-by-step guide outlined above, there are several tips and considerations that can further enhance the effectiveness of LED light therapy for acne treatment. These tips include:

Complementary Skincare Products: Incorporate acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide into your skincare routine. These products can complement the effects of LED therapy by targeting acne-causing bacteria and promoting exfoliation.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Maintain a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks, as they can contribute to acne breakouts. Adequate sleep, regular exercise, and stress management techniques can also positively impact your skin's health.

Patience and Consistency: Results from LED light therapy may take time to become noticeable. It is essential to be patient and consistent with your treatment routine. Stick to the recommended frequency and duration of sessions, as consistency is key in achieving the desired outcomes.

Follow-up with a Dermatologist: Regularly consult with your dermatologist to monitor your progress and adjust the treatment plan if necessary. They can provide valuable insights, address any concerns, and make recommendations based on your skin's response to LED therapy.

By incorporating these additional tips into your LED light therapy regimen, you can maximize the benefits and improve the overall management of your acne.



LED light therapy has emerged as a promising treatment option for individuals struggling with acne. By understanding the basics of acne, the mechanism of action of LED therapy, and following a step-by-step guide, individuals can effectively incorporate LED light therapy into their skincare routine.

LED light therapy offers a non-invasive, safe, and well-tolerated approach to targeting acne-causing bacteria, reducing inflammation, and promoting skin healing. When combined with proper skincare practices, LED therapy can contribute to clearer, healthier-looking skin and improved self-esteem.

Remember to consult with a dermatologist to receive personalized advice and guidance before starting LED light therapy. They can assess your specific skin condition, recommend the most suitable treatment plan, and ensure its integration with any existing acne treatments.

Take the first step towards a clearer complexion and improved confidence by exploring the potential benefits of LED light therapy for acne. With patience, consistency, and the guidance of a healthcare professional, you can embark on a journey towards healthier, acne-free skin.