Can You Overdo LED Light Therapy Treatments?

Woman washing her face in the mirror.

*Updated 4/24/2020

With any newer health and wellness technology, users tend to ask smart questions about the benefits and risks. While LED light therapy has been developing for decades, home light therapy devices are a more recent trend—and one that’s here to stay. No longer do you need to visit a spa or doctor’s office to reap the benefits of infrared, blue, or red light therapy. But if you plan to buy your own home light therapy device to treat acne, wrinkles, or pain, you might wonder if you can get too much LED light therapy. We’ve answered that question for you.

Test Your Device Before Using It Regularly

Once you purchase your home LED device, run a baseline test to rule out light sensitivity for your body. A negative reaction to light therapy is rare. According to the Mayo Clinic, light therapy has “few side effects,” while Healthline says it’s considered “safe and painless.” Of course, everyone’s skin is different, and it’s best to be sure how your body will react before using your device regularly. Test the device on your forearm for no more than three minutes. If you see no reaction after 24 hours, proceed with regular light therapy treatments. 

How Often Should You Use Light Therapy At Home?

Certain elements of skincare work best in moderation. Washing your face several times a day is not recommended, for example, because you will strip your skin of natural oils, drying it out and potentially causing even more break-outs. But light therapy is different.

Red light therapy is one skincare treatment that responds well to multiple daily uses and using it more than once a day may bring you faster results. A red light therapy device does not harm the surface of your skin or the underlying tissue. Instead, the red or infrared lights stimulate cellular repair and increase blood flow. Blue light similarly penetrates pores and hair follicles to kill bacteria that causes acne and is often available in a handheld device for on-the-go treatment.

When using light therapy products, treat each area of the body for the length of time the device instructions recommend, usually from three to 10 minutes. Then, move to the next area and repeat. Larger devices, such as light therapy panels, can treat more surface area at a time. 

With home devices, compared with a treatment in a spa or dermatologist’s office, you can treat as often as you like—no appointment necessary! That said, we recommend consulting your healthcare provider, such as a dermatologist or general practitioner, before starting any new beauty treatments.

Here are a few more common yet specific cases where people use light therapy.

Blue Light Treatments for Severe Acne

The purpose of using blue LED light is to control bacteria. So, to treat severe acne, you can use your clinical device several times a day, as long as there is no irritation resulting in redness or rashes. 

Red Light Therapy Before or After a Workout

Red and infrared light can help prepare the muscles for a workout and ease pain or spasms afterward. The light waves penetrate deeply to help muscle tissue repair and regenerate. Use the devices as often as you work out. Treat before exercise, after, or both.

LED Light Therapy for Skin Conditions

LED light has been scientifically shown to treat a wide range of skin conditions, and research continues to reveal new uses. Try it for as often as you have time and be patient with the results. 

Can LED Light Therapy Cause Skin Cancer?

Most home light therapy devices use red, blue, or infrared LEDs designed for skincare, acne, or pain. LED light therapy does not use ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is what can lead to premature aging and is a major risk factor for skin cancer. That said, always choose an FDA-cleared device for light therapy and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.

Why Consistent Light Therapy Treatments Produce Better Results

Remember it takes years to develop acne scarring and wrinkles. Regardless of the way you use light therapy, results take time. Stick with your treatments to see maximum benefits. Getting off track isn’t a big deal as LED lights are gentle and can be resumed at any time. However, maintenance and consistency are key when correcting acne or reducing wrinkles.

Track Your Progress to Measure the Benefits of Light Therapy

Recording your progress with photos or videos is the best way to see the evidence of light therapy’s benefits. Take a photo of the treated area the day you start using your device, and then another one from the same angle and in the same light once a week or once a month and repeat at that interval. While the changes may not be as obvious to you when you look in the mirror each day, the photos will clearly show your progress. 

Light therapy cannot be overdone for most people. If you notice any extraordinary results, stop treatment, and contact your physician. For the best results, choose the right device style and LED color, and use it as directed.

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