IGeL light against acne
Treatments with special light are supposed to help with mild acne. Health insurance companies usually do not pay for them. Is it worth the investment?
What is being done there?
Mild acne is treated with a specific wavelength of blue or red light. The lamps with LEDs or special fluorescent tubes irradiate affected areas of the face - for between 15 and 30 minutes. Blue light is supposed to kill acne-causing bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes).
"However, there is no direct evidence of this mechanism of action," says Christos Zouboulis, Professor of Dermatology at the Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane. The red light component is supposed to help against inflammation. One to two treatments per week for a period of at least two months are recommended.
- Side effects are hardly to be feared when used correctly. Exceptions can occur in people whose skin is particularly sensitive to light - for example due to certain medications.
- Professional societies see this as another way of treating mild to moderate acne. Zouboulis, who worked on the treatment guideline for the German Society for Dermatology, sees light therapy as an additional option for such patients as well. "It shouldn't replace standard therapy, such as creams or gels."
- There are a few studies that see evidence of light therapy being effective. But the quality of the examinations is rather poor. In addition, many questions remain unanswered - such as which lamps are best suited: those that only emit blue light? Only red? Or both? Little is known about the optimal treatment cycle either.
- Acne is a complex disease. Therefore, the blue and red light are by no means an option for all patients. The treatment guideline states that this would not improve more severe courses.
- Different manufacturers offer devices for light therapy in different versions. Laypeople can hardly judge whether the products are reputable and suitable for the treatment of acne.
Treatment in a practice usually costs between 5 and 25 euros. This information was compiled by the IGeL-Monitor, an expert committee of the statutory health insurance companies. Since treatment over several weeks is recommended, costs of 40 to over 120 euros are to be expected.
A special lamp for around 150 to 300 euros is required for self-directed light therapy. Health insurance companies only contribute to the costs in exceptional cases and as a gesture of goodwill.
Anyone who suffers from acne should always first consult a dermatologist for diagnosis and therapy recommendations. In the case of mild to moderate severity, light therapy can possibly alleviate the symptoms somewhat. However, it is not suitable for treatment on its own. Nobody should get too high hopes, especially since buying your own device is associated with considerable costs.