Blue Light Therapy for Cystic Acne: How This Technology Can Help

No one likes an acne breakout! Pimples are embarrassing pests that always seem to pop up at the most inconvenient times — but perhaps the biggest challenge of all is cystic acne. It’s painful, persistent, and extremely difficult to fight.

Is there a way to conquer cystic acne once and for all?

In this article, we’ll examine blue light therapy for cystic acne to help you decide whether this treatment is worth pursuing. 

What Is Cystic Acne?

Most people have had a pimple at some point. It’s a small bump just below the skin’s surface with a bit of pus trapped inside and a red rim around the edges. Give it a squeeze, and the pus oozes out. Of course, it’s never a good idea to pop a pimple, but for the most part, the wound heals with no harm done.

Cystic acne is different. These aren’t just pimples; they’re inflamed, pus-filled cysts that live deep under the skin and aren’t so accessible from the surface. In addition to your face, cystic acne can also appear on your neck, shoulders, back, chest, upper arms, and derriere.

Cystic acne begins the same way normal pimples do. A pore gets clogged with oil (called sebum), dead skin cells, and dirt, and becomes infected when bacteria joins the mix. Your immune system sends white blood cells to deal with the infection, causing inflammation. Voilà — acne.

The acne process begins in the dermis, the middle layer of the skin where hair follicles originate. A standard pimple will rise to the epidermis, the topmost layer of the skin, and poke its swollen, pus-filled head out. But cystic acne causes significant swelling deep down in the dermis.

Even though it’s in the middle layer of the skin, cystic acne is visible from the surface as a round, hard lump, usually much larger than an ordinary pimple. It’s tender and painful, and if you try to penetrate the cyst, you can spread the infection, resulting in more acne. Plus, trying to break open cystic acne — successfully or unsuccessfully — can easily lead to scarring.

So, if you can’t pop cystic acne, what can you do? Let’s talk about blue light therapy for cystic acne.

Does Blue Light Therapy Help Cystic Acne?

The short answer is yes! Blue light therapy can help cystic acne. This non-invasive treatment uses wavelengths of blue light, administered either in clinical sessions or through at-home devices, to kill acne-causing bacteria.

Blue light is antimicrobial, meaning it can target and destroy the bacteria that typically cause cystic acne. By destroying the bacteria inside infected pores, blue light can also reduce the swelling and inflammation that characterize cystic acne appear. And by destroying acne-causing bacteria on the skin, blue light therapy helps prevent future breakouts.

Studies show blue light therapy devices used properly at home are an effective part of a successful acne treatment plan. Since most existing studies have not lasted beyond 12 weeks, more research is needed to completely prove this, but initial findings have been positive and consistent.

When compared to over-the-counter topical treatments and prescription options, blue light therapy has several advantages:

  • Does not require any pills or medications, limiting the possibility of side effects
  • Safe to use on all skin types and for all ages
  • No known long-term issues related to light therapy
  • Safe to use anywhere breakouts occur on the body
  • Increasingly accessible and affordable in at-home devices, many of which offer flexible payment plans and money-back guarantees
  • Doesn’t interfere with other acne treatments

The major drawback of blue light therapy for cystic acne is blue light’s inability to penetrate deeply into the skin. Because of this, some dermatologists don’t think blue light can help with deeper, cystic acne. While little research has examined blue light therapy for cystic acne specifically, one 2021 study showed promise.

It’s important to note that blue light therapy for cystic acne usually doesn’t operate alone. Red light therapy is another form of beneficial light treatment often combined with blue light therapy. Red light isn’t antimicrobial, so it can’t kill bacteria like blue light does, but it does come with a plethora of benefits for acne-prone skin:

Whether you decide to receive treatments in a clinical setting or with an in-home device, be sure you include the benefits of both blue and red light therapy.

Infographic: Blue Light Therapy Cystic Acne: How This Technology Can Help

What Should Accompany Blue Light Therapy for Cystic Acne?

Researchers believe blue light therapy is an effective way to kill acne-causing bacteria, soothe swollen skin, and reduce inflammation.

However, the best treatment plan for cystic acne will likely involve more than blue light therapy alone. To properly manage this condition, you’ll likely want to use several treatment methods at once. These may include red light therapy, topical ointments, and/or prescription medicine.

If you suffer from cystic acne, the best course of action is to consult with your doctor or dermatologist. They can evaluate your acne and make recommendations based on your specific case.

Blue Light Therapy and Cystic Acne: Summary

Cystic acne is a painful, difficult condition that may feel impossible to manage. But remember, you’re not alone.

There are many cystic acne sufferers just like you wishing their skin would clear up and stop interfering with their lives. But there are also plenty of people willing to help, and there are plenty of ways to help yourself!

While blue light therapy for cystic acne is not a magic cure, it can be an effective part of your treatment plan. It’s an excellent way to help prevent future outbreaks, and when paired with red light therapy, it’s often a satisfyingly effective way to get relief from acne symptoms!

More Acne