Photodynamic therapy for acne is an efficient treatment. The main disadvantage of this treatment includes the cost involved and the fact that insurance won't typically cover it. However, photodynamic therapy (PDT) will not have the side effects of many acne medications or treatments, so it may be preferred.

Photodynamic Therapy for Acne

Photodynamic therapy for acne employs light and a photosensitizing drug (commonly 5-aminolevulinic acid, or ALA). The drug is applied on the areas affected by acne and then the skin is exposed to light, which activates the drug. Initially, PDT was developed to treat skin cancer and actinic keratosis, but today, this treatment may be used in patients with acne.

PDT for acne is applied in several sessions, typically three to five, scheduled two to four weeks apart. In the long run, the PDT treatment will reduce the acne by 50 to 70 percent and will also shrink the size of the oil glands, diminishing the chances of future acne outbursts. The treatment is suitable for patients with moderate to severe acne and may also repair certain acne scars.

PDT may be combined with other acne treatments such as topical creams that contain vitamin A, or other retinoids or salicylic acid.

PDT Side Effects

The side effects of PDT for acne may include swelling and redness. The skin may also be flaky for up to a week after the treatment; however, these side effects are temporary and are minor when compared to the side effects of other medication treatments for acne.