Psoriasis is a prevalent skin condition that affects more than 8 million Americans. The condition is caused by abnormalities in skin cell growth. The cells grow too quickly and frequently, resulting in itchy, dry and scaly patches on the skin.
Unfortunately, the cause of psoriasis remains elusive. Researchers believe the condition may arise due to genetic, immunological, and environmental factors.
In recent years, dermatologists and other wellness professionals have experimented with using red light therapy for psoriasis. Results from these early tests are promising.
Red light therapy has been shown to improve cellular metabolism and reduce inflammation, which causes accelerated skin cell growth seen in psoriasis. Additionally, RLT has been shown to boost production of collagen and elastin, key elements in skin health and resilience.
Research continues to explore the link between red light therapy and psoriasis. This guide covers what red light therapy is, how it helps skin health and psoriasis, and how you can try red light therapy.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is a form of photobiomodulation therapy. It uses red and infrared light emitting diodes (LED) to treat conditions ranging from sun damage to acne.
Light therapy was one of the first-used treatment options for psoriasis. In fact, in early medicine, sunlight was commonly prescribed to relieve the condition’s symptoms. An improved form of light therapy is now available for the treatment of psoriasis.
So, how does red light therapy work?
Ultimately, RLT delivers beams of light energy to the skin. This light penetrates skin cells and restores skin health. Here’s a simple explanation of red light therapy for psoriasis:
- LEDs that emit red light, which is 10 times brighter than sun rays, are placed near the skin.
- The mitochondria of skin cells—the organisms that aid in converting nutrients into energy—absorb light.
- Skin cells that are exposed to light replenish and heal.
Ultimately, as skin cells absorb light energy, they begin to produce more Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which serves numerous cell functions. An increase in ATP, for example, improves collagen production, and it serves as the energy cells need to regenerate and repair themselves.
How Red Light Therapy Helps Psoriasis
There are numerous benefits of photobiomodulation and red light therapy, and that’s especially true for psoriasis sufferers. In general, however, red light therapy may soothe psoriasis symptoms due to three key reasons:
1. Reduces Inflammation
In psoriasis, the immune system mistakenly triggers inflammation. The inflammation then speeds up the growth of skin cells, leading to the formation of red, scaly patches that are hallmarks of psoriasis.
Research has shown that RLT may reduce inflammation by regulating cytokines. For example, the therapy has been shown to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, while promoting anti-inflammatory cytokines.
2. Promotes Healing and Regeneration
Red and near-infrared light stimulates cellular activity, specifically the mitochondria within cells. This increases ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production, cell’s energy source.
With more energy, skin cells can help to repair themselves and restore damaged skin. As a result, RLT has been shown to reduce the thickness and scaliness of psoriasis plaques.
3. Increases Collagen Production
Collagen and elastin are two important proteins for maintaining skin health. RLT stimulates the production of these proteins. Due to this, RLT helps improve skin health and appearance, which may be beneficial for managing psoriasis symptoms.
Red Light Therapy for Psoriasis: Does It Work?
Red and infrared light therapy has been shown in numerous studies to be a very successful treatment for psoriasis. In a recent study, patients received two 20-minute sessions of near-infrared light (830 nm) and red light (633 nm) every 48 hours over a period of 4 to 5 weeks. Clearance rates during the follow-up period ranged from 60 to 100 percent. Another note from the study: RLT was received positively by all participants.
According to another study, inflammatory conditions, including psoriasis and acne, can also be controlled. Further research in dermatology is encouraged by the non-invasiveness and almost complete absence of negative effects.
Psoriasis and Light Therapy: FAQs
Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about psoriasis and photobiomodulation therapy:
Is RLT Safe?
This skin therapy is non-invasive, free of drugs and UV, ensuring a lack of negative side effects. To add to this, the National Psoriasis Foundation affirms the safety of light therapy. Ultimately, it may be a treatment option for helping reduce the physical discomfort associated with psoriasis and to improve the overall quality of life for those dealing with this chronic condition.
How Many Sessions Do I Need?
Ultimately, how many red light therapy sessions you need depends on the severity of the condition. In general, you might to see positive effects after a couple sessions; however, typically the results begin to be noticeable after 3-10 weeks.
One study found that a 3-week protocol of 3 20-minute sessions per week resulted in positive effects, while other studies have shown positive results after 10 weeks.
How Can I Try Light Therapy?
You can use red light therapy with these at-home devices:
- A whole-body red light therapy bed is similar to a tanning bed. It delivers red light to the entire body.
- A red light therapy mat or red light therapy breast pad targets psoriasis in specific areas. There are also lamps and even infrared light guns that provide more targeted applications.
There are also many clinics and spas that use red light therapy. See what to expect during a red light therapy session.
Photobiomodulation Therapy for Other Skin Conditions
In addition to psoriasis, red light treatment is used by celebrities and others to improve skin health. This condition has been used to reduce wrinkles, improve skin tightness, reduce acne symptoms, and more.
Some of the skin conditions RLT may help treat include:
- Eczema: By reducing inflammation and improving healing, RLT may help manage eczema symptoms, such as itching, redness, and skin dryness
- Acne: RLT can help reduce the inflammation associated with acne and may also reduce oil production and bacterial growth, both of which contribute to acne development
- Wound Healing: RLT can stimulate cellular activity and increase collagen production, which may promote faster wound healing and minimize scarring
- Skin Aging: By stimulating collagen production and improving cellular activity, RLT may help reduce the visible signs of skin aging, such as wrinkles and skin sagging.
- Rosacea: RLT can help reduce the inflammation associated with rosacea, which can help manage symptoms and reduce the frequency of flare-ups
- Sun Damage: The ability of RLT to stimulate healing and collagen production can be beneficial in repairing sun-damaged skin.
While the research is promising, red light therapy is often a complementary treatment that’s used in addition to traditional psoriasis treatments. Always consult with your doctor before trying red light therapy.
Psoriasis is a condition that affects millions of people. While there is no cure for this condition, red light therapy can be an effective tool to reduce symptoms and improve overall skin health. For more information about RLT and photobiomodulation, subscribe to our newsletter or shop our photobiomodulation devices and light therapy beds now.