What are the Effects of Light Therapy on Skin?

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  • Written By: Cynde Gregory
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2019
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Light therapy on skin is a dermatological treatment used to effectively clear up skin diseases and disorders such as psoriasis, jaundice, and rashes. It has also been used to treat psychiatric disorders related to depression and other mental health issues. Those practicing alternative medicine have also tapped into light therapy to treat their clients. There are no known risks in connection to light therapies, whether treatment occurs in a medical office or alternative facility, although some minor side effects have been experienced.

For dermatological problems, light therapy skin treatments are given by licensed health care practitioners in outpatient clinics and take two to three sessions per week for up to two months, depending upon the severity of the problem. Light therapy, also called phototherapy, is accomplished through the application of ultraviolet (UV) light to the skin. This exposure can result in mild sunburn or dry eyes, but these side effects can be minimized by limiting the length of time the light therapy is administered.

Light therapy on skin is also used psychiatrically to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD affects individuals who become depressed due to diminished sunlight during winter months. It is believed that light therapy stimulates creation in the brain of the neurotransmitter serotonin, associated with sleep and mood.


Some medical professionals have used light therapy on skin to treat bipolar disorder as well as nonseasonal depression. Others find it successful in resetting the biological clock in cases of jet lag or for individuals who suffer from general insomnia. It is also theorized that light therapy alters an individual’s circadian rhythms, which control repeating biological processes in organisms.

For patients requiring ongoing treatment, self-administration using a light box is an alternative to frequent visits to the doctor for therapy. Home light box treatment can be effective with as little as 15 minutes of exposure daily. For patients with serious symptoms, however, several hours may be necessary.

Some alternative health practitioners use light therapy as a way of addressing energy imbalance in the seven chakras, or energy centers, located along the backbone. This type of light therapy on skin is called chromotherapy. Each of the chakras is associated with a primary or secondary color as well as with a specific organ or body part. Practitioners believe that a blocked chakra stops the natural, healthy flow of energy through the body and that applying the associated colored light to the blockage will relieve it.



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