What You Need to Know About Light Therapy and Your Skin Condition

Woman having light treatment on her scalp What You Need to Know About Light Therapy and Your Skin Condition

Light therapy is a dermatological tool that has been very effective in the last few decades. There are many skin conditions that may benefit from specialized light therapy, so read on to find out if you’re a good candidate!

What to Know About Light Treatment

What is Light Therapy and What Can it Treat?

Light therapy uses—you guessed it—light to treat skin that’s impacted by a variety of skin conditions both medical and cosmetic. Also known as phototherapy, light therapy is based on a simple concept. In most cases, light is used as an energy source for your skin cells. The mitochondria contained within the cells absorb and use light energy to regrow or heal. Light can encourage the skin to produce more collagen or other useful proteins that can fight against a number of issues from aging to precancer. To learn the full potential of light therapy, it’s best to look at a few of the specific conditions light therapy can treat and how it addresses them.

Hair Loss (Alopecia)

Hair loss is a condition that impacts millions of Americans each year. Light therapy, whether administered in low-level laser therapy or with lightboxes or other devices, can work wonders to regrow some lost hair and prevent further loss. When the photons in light are absorbed by skin cells, the follicles can be jump-started into producing hair. By strengthening cells in the scalp, hair loss is curbed before it’s too late. It’s important to get treatment and advice early when dealing with pattern baldness or thinning. The sooner you can get light therapy for alopecia, the better.

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis is a serious skin condition that can often develop into skin cancer if it’s not caught early. AKs can appear in a few different ways, but they’re most often characterized by patches of rough, dry skin. They can be discolored (red, pink, or dark brown) or match your skin tone. They are caused by sun damage and can become squamous cell carcinoma. SCC is the second-most common form of skin cancer, and it can be fatal if untreated. Don’t let it come to that! It’s much easier to treat actinic keratosis before it even has the chance to become something worse. When treating an AK, light therapy requires a medication. This drug is injected or applied topically to the affected skin and then activated by exposure to light. When light interacts with the medication, it creates a chemical reaction that kills cancer cells and AKs alike. That’s right, in some cases light therapy can even be used to treat slow-moving forms of skin cancer with no surgical intervention.


Vitiligo is a largely cosmetic skin condition that often has far-reaching mental consequences, rather than medical issues. It’s characterized by symmetrical patches of total pigment loss. Skin with no pigment is a pale white color. This can happen very suddenly, and most contend that it’s caused by an improper immune response. Melanocytes, responsible for producing melanin, the cells responsible for skin’s pigmentation, are mistaken for foreign cells. The immune system’s response is to destroy these cells, causing the skin to lose all color. Light therapy works by exposing the skin to ultraviolet radiation. In controlled settings, UV light can promote the production of more melanin. For many, light therapy can help restore skin to its natural color and end the social withdrawal people suffering from vitiligo may have experienced.

Light therapy is a multipurpose tool in your dermatologist’s bag of tricks. If you’re suffering from one of the conditions described above and want help, reach out to the light therapy pros at Northeast Dermatology Associates today.

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