Article by Cristal Orpilla, R.N.
A week ago I was playing with my iTouch and browsing for any interesting Apps, and I happened to come across AcneApp. Not long after, I stumbled upon an article in New York Times discussing this wonder-App aimed at treating acne. So naturally I went to the DermApps website and read up about the basis of AcneApp. AcneApp works by emitting alternating 420 nanometer blue light and 660 nanometer red light technology that is theoretically believed to kill the bacteria that causes acne, promote healing, and act on wrinkles by stimulating collagen growth. Directions for use is as follows:
Begin by choosing a light option from the tab bar. The Red & Blue alternating light is the recommended option.
Rest the iPhone against your skin’s acne-prone areas for 2 minutes daily to improve skin health without prescription drugs.
- Blue Light: fights bacteria
- Red Light: helps heal skin
As you can imagine, this idea sent many "Aha!" thoughts into my head. Because of my current role in the skincare industry, I know the that there are various light-emitting diode (LED) systems aimed at treating various skin conditions. In-office treatments for photodynymanic therapy (PDT) use LED machines such as Blu-U, OmniLux, and Radiancy use to treat acne and rejuvenate the skin. In a research paper conducting a study of combination phototherapy, it was found that blue light is effective for acne treatment, destroying Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), which is a major player in the process of acne production.
Blue LED light systems such as DUSA’s Blu-U works by emitting blue light at a wavelength of 417 nanometers, which acts to target and activate photosensitizers known as porphyrins in the P. acnes bacterium. This photoactivation creates a toxic environment for P. acnes the that causes it to be destroyed, thus preventing any clogging of the oil glands and formation of acne.
Another photodynamic therapy system, such as Gentlewaves, emits red LED light of about 680 nanometers and above to produce near- and mid-infrared wavelengths that are directly soaked up by intra- and extracellular water of skin cells. This leads to mild heating of the skin layers that is interpreted by skin cells as cellular insult, which causes activation of the skin’s wound-healing response. This basically means that because the skin layers have been mildly heated up, the cells go into repair mode to create more healthy skin cells to replace the "damaged" cells. Of course, no cells were actually damaged; the body just believes that the mild heating caused a thermal insult and that skin cells need repair. This wound-healing response leads to a stronger dermal layer, reduced swelling and inflammation, and noticeable improvements in tone, texture, and softening of fine lines.
So do I think that the AcneApp works? Maybe. The wavelengths of AcneApp seem to be ballpark to the ones emitted by what the pro’s use in clinical sites. But I have to say, I am still skeptical because of a couple of factors. Namely, the LED systems used in-office are powerful lights that emit a specific dose of energy; I wonder how powerful the iPhone’s or iTouch’s LED lights actually are. There are people out there who have downloaded the app and claim the it to work, but I wonder if it’s just a placebo reaction of mind over body. If the program does work, I would imagine that people would have to be consistent in keeping their phones free of bacteria, because holding this up to your skin daily may exacerbate acne, and the entire "treatment" will just be counter-productive. The idea is intriguing, I have to admit. Perhaps intriguing enough to download it for about $1.99 in iTunes. But personally, for now, I’ll just stick to my routine skincare regimen, healthy diet, and lots of stress reduction.
Blue and Red Light Combination LED Phototherapy for Acne Vulgaris in Patients with Skin Phototype IV. Lee et al, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine