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Most individuals who suffer from acne may have noticed that in the summer months their breakouts are less frequent, while in winter months they increase. This may have less to do with the drying effects of the cold weather and heating units and more to do with the amount of exposure individuals have to the sun. UV light actually works as an effective means of acne treatment, and when sought out properly, exposure to UV rays can minimize the number of breakouts.
Sunlight is actually used in a number of different forms of skin therapy. In fact, light exposure is crucial to the healthy development of Vitamin D and does wonders for many mood disorders. When it comes to acne treatment, though, sunlight is surprisingly helpful. The UV rays in sunlight act directly on a particular kind of bacteria that frequently causes acne breakouts. The light activates a substance known as porphyrin, which is regularly released by the bacteria. As light hits the porphyrins, they turn on the bacteria, releasing free radicals which ultimately destroy the bacteria and clear the skin. Therefore, as individuals expose their skin to the sun’s UV rays, they are actively working to kill the bacteria on their faces.
The Dangers of Overexposure
Unfortunately, overexposure to the UV rays of the sun can do a number of harmful things to an individual’s skin. In addition to the threats of sunburn and skin cancer, regular and prolonged exposure to UV rays through tanning beds or ‘laying out’ can lead to the development of wrinkles, age spots and leathery skin. Ultraviolet light is also responsible for the breakdown of Vitamins A and C in the skin, which can affect the skin’s elasticity. Even though sunlight therapy does effectively work to kill the bacteria that infect the oil in acne, the American Academy of Dermatology has largely disavowed the use of direct sunlight for acne treatment.
Blue Light Therapy
Luckily, there are other ways to get exposure to helpful UV rays while minimizing exposure to the harmful ones. Blue light therapy is a form of non-UV light therapy that uses a milder wave of light to target and activate the porphyrins in the bacteria. Individuals sit in front of a blue light device twice a week over the course of a month, allowing the waves to wash over the face and target the acne-causing bacteria. The individual should also regularly clean and exfoliate the skin to remove the dead bacteria and remove excess oils. As the bacteria is killed off and prevented from returning, the individual should notice significantly clearer skin and experience fewer breakouts.
The efficacy of UV Light therapy has been tested, but Blue Light Therapy is still in its relative infancy. While it has been proven to effectively kill off much of the acne-causing bacteria that UV Light therapy does, its overall effectiveness as a form of acne treatment is largely untested. As more individuals test the process out for themselves, they can evaluate whether light therapy is a good option for their own acne treatment.