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FDA approves LED acne treatment

04 Jul 2003

Acne sufferers could soon be benefiting from an LED-based treatment system that has just received US FDA approval.

An acne treatment system that uses blue LEDs is about to go on sale in the US. Alderm of the US and Photo Therapeutics of the UK have just received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to market their system. The Omnilux Blue system will now be available in the US and used for treating a range of skin conditions including moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris.

The instrument contains five arrays of LEDs emitting at 415 nm and delivers approximately 40 mW/cm2 to the surface of the skin. In contrast to other treatments, patients do not have to apply a cream to their skin. The technique simply relies on the interaction of the blue light with the infected skin.

The interaction generates singlet oxygen, which attacks and kills the bacterial cells, and also removes any pH gradients. Removing these factors inhibits the growth and spread of acne.

“This is a breakthrough in terms of making this cost-effective LED treatment available to medical dermatologists as an alternative treatment for acne which has no serious negative side effects,” said James Kraushaar, president of Alderm. “Once acne patients become aware of this new treatment, systemic drugs will certainly become less desirable options.”

According to Philip Charlton of Photo Therapeutics, each treatment session lasts 20 minutes. “Patients receive two treatments per week and 8 treatments in total,” he told Optics.org. In clinical trials, the companies say that over 90% of their patients rated the treatment as very good or excellent.

Charlton says that the light-emitting portion of the system, which is positioned approximately 8 to 10 cm away from the skin, is flexible and can be bent to fit around the surface being irradiated. He added that the user can switch-off any of the LED arrays at the control unit to treat smaller patches of skin.

Operated from the mains, the Omnilux base unit can be fitted with different illumination heads to treat various dermatological conditions. Photo Therapeutics is hoping to receive FDA approval for its Omnilux Revive system next week. This red LED system is used for photorejuvenation as well as treatment of vascular and pigmented lesions.

Jacqueline Hewett is news reporter on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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