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Listen to the ASCP Esty Talk podcast at 39 Acne Devices Let there be light! by Maggie Staszcuk TREATING ACNE IS A PASSION and a chosen specialty for some estheticians. But whether they chose to specialize in acne or not, most estheticians have clients who are dealing with varying degrees of this condition. To treat acne, an esthetician will start by using salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or retinols. Sometimes, though, clients are nonresponsive, develop a tolerance to home care and treatment, or don't get results fast enough. Fortunately, there are many light- based esthetic treatments on the market today that help reduce infl ammation, pigmentation, and scarring to diminish the severity of acne vulgaris by targeting the Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) bacteria that leads to this condition. LED LIGHT THERAPY LED light therapy emits photons of light that are absorbed by the skin and trigger cellular activity. 1 Depending on the color of light and its wavelength, the benefi ts of light therapy vary from rest and rejuvenation to increased circulation, collagen, and elastin. Blue light therapy is an FDA-approved, noninvasive light energy procedure that has been a staple in both the beauty industry and the medical industry for treating a variety of skin conditions. For acne, it is used to kill the C. acnes bacteria within the hair follicle. 2 Red light therapy is not as eff ective in targeting C. acnes bacteria but can travel to deeper depths within the skin and reduce infl ammation in the sebaceous gland. 3 When combined, these two wavelengths are very successful in reducing the number of infl ammatory lesions on the skin. For those who suff er noninfl ammatory grade-one acne, light therapy may not be as eff ective. 4 Unlike more aggressive light energy procedures, light therapy has no downtime and no adverse reactions on the skin. It is important to note that blue light therapy on its own is likely not enough to eliminate acne, so multiple sessions combined with ADVANCED MODALITIES additional therapies and proper home care are needed. Although several studies can be found that support the use of blue light therapy and indicate an improvement of 65 percent or more in mild to moderate acne, 5 many of these studies are based on self- reported outcomes that may result in a bias. LED light therapy is within scope for most estheticians. Some states may require additional training, or certain wavelengths of color may be out of scope. For example, Virginia allows LED light therapy for master estheticians only. 6 PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment combining light energy with a photosensitive topical drug and the presence of oxygen. The topical drug becomes active in the presence of light and leads to the destruction of abnormal cells. The most common light energy sources used are blue and red light therapy or intense pulsed light (IPL); however,

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