Auburn Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center | Dr. Rona Holmes

2172 Moores Mill Road
Auburn, AL 36830

Phone: 334-887-5060
Fax: 334-887-4367

Blue Light/Photodynamic Therapy

FDA approved for the treatment of Actinic Keratoses on the face and scalp.

blue lightWhat are actinic keratoses (AKs)?
AKs are rough, dry  patches on the skin that are caused by chronic exposure to sunlight. They are often pink or red and may itch or burn.  They occur most frequently on areas of heavy sun exposure, such as the face, scalp, neck, ears, arms, and hands.
AKs are considered to be “pre-cancers” and have the potential to progress to skin cancer.  There are multiple treatment options for actinic keratoses. 
Photodynamic therapy is excellent for patients with numerous Aks in one area.

What is Levulan Photodynamic Therapy?
This is a 2-step treatment that uses a light activated drug therapy to destroy AKs. 
The first step of the treatment is application of the Levulan topical solution (aminolevulinic acid).  The solution will incubate on the skin for at least 30 minutes, depending on the severity of damage and location of the skin being treated. This will allow the medicine to be absorbed by the damaged areas.  This step is usually painless.  Once the medication has penetrated, you will receive the blue light treatment, which lasts approximately 17 minutes.

How is the treatment like?
The blue light is low intensity and will not heat the skin.  However, you may experience mild tingling, stinging, or burning of the treated areas. These feelings should subside within 24 hours after the treatment ends.  It is necessary to avoid sunlight after the treatment or burning and redness may recur and worsen.

What can I expect after the treatment?
You may have some skin reddening, swelling, dryness, and peeling after the treatment.  This is temporary and will resolve by 4 weeks after the treatment.

You must avoid sun exposure for at least 48 hours after the blue light treatment.  Sunscreens will help but will not completely protect against photosensitivity reactions. Hats are beneficial if the face and scalp are treated.

Blue light alone is also FDA approved for treatment of moderate acne:

Sometimes, we see that a patient’s skin is not responding well to “conventional” treatment of acne. This includes washes, creams, and oral medications. In this case, the light may be right for you.  It also may help “jumpstart” treatment and is useful in pregnant patients and people with sensitive skin.

The blue light kills the bacteria that aggravates and causes acne.  Each session lasts approximately 15 minutes and can be repeated as often as two times a week.  The light is safe, not hot, and not painful. There is no downtime and no risk of scarring. 

For more severe acne, we may recommend the application of Levulan prior to Blue light exposure or recommend photopneumatic treatment. 

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