Daylight PDT vs Red Light Therapy in Acne Treatment

LED Light Therapy. puhhha. Affiliated Dermatology
Image by puhhha/ shutterstock.com

Stubborn acne can be a frustrating and often debilitating skin condition, especially for those suffering from breakouts for months or even years. For many individuals, it can seem like overcoming acne is virtually impossible – none of the creams, serums, medications, or at-home treatments seem to work.

But now, innovations in acne treatment and prevention have introduced new options for reducing acne effectively. Two of the newest treatment methods for acne are daylight photodynamic therapy (PDT) and red light therapy. Today, we’re taking a closer look at what these treatments are, what they are used for, and which one might be right for you.

What is Daylight Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)?

Daylight photodynamic therapy, or D-PDT, is a form of treatment that combines a light-sensitive medication with a specialized light source to target and eliminate abnormal cells. 

During the treatment, your doctor will apply a light-sensitive medicine (often in cream) to the targeted area. Then, a specialized lamp or laser will be applied to the area for anywhere from 10 to 45 minutes. After daylight PDT, the skin might be mildly sensitive, and redness and peeling may occur. 

What is Daylight PDT Used for?

Daylight PDT (and other forms of PDT) may be used for the treatment of:

  • Persistent acne
  • Actinic keratoses
  • Warts
  • Certain forms of skin cancer

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is very similar to daylight PDT, using both a photosensitive medication and a low wavelength red light. You might hear red light therapy, also described as:

  • Low-level laser light therapy
  • Low-power laser therapy
  • Soft laser therapy
  • Cold laser therapy
  • Non-thermal LED light therapy

During red light therapy, it is believed that your cells’ mitochondria (their “power plants”) receive a boost of energy that allows them to perform various functions more effectively. As a result, skin repair, rejuvenation, and new cell growth can effectively increase, as certain cells absorb the specific light wavelengths and are “activated” to get to work.

What is Red Light Therapy Used for?

Like daylight PDT, there is still much to learn about how red light therapy works for a broad range of skin conditions. However, it has shown the potential to:

  • Improve acne
  • Reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, scars, and stretch marks
  • Improve overall skin texture
  • Help treat eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea
  • Stimulate the production of collagen
  • Support improved blood circulation and reduced inflammation

Daylight PDT vs. Red Light Therapy for Acne

Which one is better for acne: red light therapy or daylight PDT? Experts are still working on studies that provide clear, more tangible answers, but many people are achieving significant results using one or the other.

A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology pointed out that both treatment options were linked with significant improvements in facial acne. The main difference appeared to be less discomfort with daylight PDT in comparison with red light therapy. Also, researchers noted that daylight PDT might be more accessible and affordable in some cases.

Of course, your dermatologist is the best person to answer questions of efficacy. The best acne treatment for you can depend on a myriad of factors, so it is recommended that you meet with a licensed dermatologist to determine the options that can work for you.

Conquer Breakouts with Help from Affiliated Dermatology

Because every individual’s skin is unique, there’s not necessarily a single solution guaranteed to work for everyone. And more often than not, the products and devices you can buy for at-home use are far less powerful and effective than what would be available in a medical setting. For these reasons, the best way to get rid of acne is to consult with a licensed dermatologist. 

At Affiliated Dermatology, we can assess your skin to pinpoint the factors that may be contributing to your acne, coexisting skin issues, and more. From there, we can develop a personalized treatment plan that aligns with your needs and goals. Throughout the treatment process, we can adapt various solutions according to what’s working and what’s not – the result is better, faster results than you could likely achieve at home. 


If you’re interested in your options for professional acne treatment in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and the rest of the Valley, Affiliated Dermatology can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation at the office nearest you now!

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