Psoriasis red light therapy

Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing red, scaly patches on the skin that can be both painful and embarrassing. While there is no cure for psoriasis, various treatments aim to manage its symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected. One such treatment of psoriasis that has gained attention in recent years is red light therapy.

Red light therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation (PBM), is a non-invasive treatment that uses specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light to penetrate the skin and promote healing. This is low level light therapy because the most ultraviolet light is radiation, and light therapy has been used for various medical and cosmetic purposes, including wound healing, pain relief, and skin rejuvenation.

In this blog post, we will delve into the potential benefits of red light therapy for treating plaque psoriasis further, how it works, and what to consider before trying it. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive guide for those seeking alternative or complementary treatments for plaque psoriasis, helping you make informed decisions about your health and well-being.

Understanding Psoriasis

An close-up image of a skin with psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a long-term autoimmune disease that causes skin cells to multiply more quickly on the skin's surface by speeding up their life cycle. Plaques, which are dense red spots coated with silvery scales, are the result of this accumulation. These plaques may itch, hurt, and occasionally even break and bleed.

Definition and Symptoms of Psoriasis

Psoriasis is characterized by several symptoms, including:

  • Red patches of skin are covered with thick, silvery scales.

  • Dry, cracked skin that may bleed.

  • Itching, burning, or soreness in the affected areas.

  • Thickened, pitted, or ridged nails are common in some cases.

  • Swollen and stiff joints, a condition known as psoriatic arthritis, which affects up to 30% of individuals with psoriasis.

Common Triggers and Areas of the Body Affected

Psoriasis can affect any part of the body, but it most commonly appears on the:

  • Scalp

  • Knees

  • Elbows

  • Torso

  • Palms and soles of the feet

The condition can be triggered or worsened by the adverse effects of various factors, including:

  • Stress: Emotional stress is a common trigger for psoriasis flare-ups.

  • Injury to the skin: Cuts, scrapes, bug bites, or severe sunburn can trigger psoriasis.

  • Infections: Certain infections, especially strep throat, can trigger psoriasis.

  • Certain medications: Some medications, such as lithium, antimalarial drugs, and high blood pressure medications, can trigger or worsen psoriasis.

  • Alcohol and smoking: Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can exacerbate psoriasis symptoms.

The Emotional and Physical Toll of Living with Psoriasis

an image of a woman's forehead infected with skin psoriasis.

Living with psoriasis can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. The visible nature of the condition can lead to self-consciousness, social isolation, and even depression. The constant itchiness and pain can disrupt sleep, affect daily activities, and reduce the overall quality of life.

Moreover, individuals with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing other health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, skin cancer, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease, adding to the physical toll of the condition.

Red Light Therapy for Psoriasis

A man undergoing red ight therapy.

Red light therapy (RLT) has emerged as a promising treatment option for psoriasis, offering a non-invasive and drug-free approach to managing symptoms. In this section, we'll explore how RLT specifically targets psoriasis symptoms, the research supporting its use, and personal stories from individuals who have tried this effective therapy.

How Red Light Therapy Specifically Targets Psoriasis Symptoms

Red light therapy works by delivering specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light to the skin, which are absorbed by the mitochondria in cells. This absorption stimulates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of cells, leading to enhanced cell function and regeneration. For psoriasis, RLT helps in several ways:

  • Reduces inflammation: RLT can decrease the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are involved in the development of psoriasis plaques.

  • Slows down cell growth: By regulating cellular processes, RLT can help slow down the rapid growth of skin cells that leads to plaque formation.

  • Alleviates itching and pain: RLT can help soothe the skin, reducing the itching and discomfort associated with psoriasis plaques.

Studies and Research Supporting the Use of Red Light Therapy for Psoriasis

Several studies have investigated the effectiveness of RLT in treating plaque psoriasis itself with two treatments, with promising results:

  • A study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that RLT, combined with topical treatment, significantly improved psoriasis symptoms compared to topical treatment alone.

  • Another study in the Photomedicine and Laser Surgery journal reported that RLT reduced the size and severity of plaque psoriasis but did not treat plaque psoriasis but improved the quality of life for participants.

While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and long-term effects of RLT for psoriasis, these studies suggest that it can be a valuable addition to existing treatment options.

Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Psoriasis

An image of a man under going red light treatment

Red light therapy (RLT) offers a range of benefits for individuals suffering from psoriasis, making it an attractive option for those treating psoriasis or seeking relief from the condition's symptoms. Here, we'll explore the specific advantages of RLT for psoriasis management.

Reduction in Inflammation and Redness

One of the key benefits of RLT is its ability to reduce inflammation in darker skin, a hallmark of psoriasis. The light therapy helps to calm the immune response in the skin, leading to a decrease in the redness and swelling associated with psoriasis plaques. This reduction in inflammation in darker skin not only improves the appearance of the skin but also contributes to a decrease in the severity of the condition over time.

Alleviation of Itching and Discomfort

Itching and discomfort are common complaints among individuals with psoriasis. RLT can provide relief ease psoriasis symptoms by soothing the affected areas and reducing the urge to scratch. This is particularly beneficial ease treating psoriasis' symptoms as scratching can exacerbate the condition and lead to further skin damage. The calming effect of RLT on the skin helps to alleviate symptoms, improve comfort levels and reduce the overall impact of psoriasis on daily life.

Improvement in Skin Texture and Appearance

RLT can enhance the overall texture and appearance of the skin by promoting healing and regeneration. As the therapy helps to slow down the rapid growth of skin cells characteristic of psoriasis, it can lead to smoother, less scaly skin. Additionally, the increased collagen production stimulated by RLT can improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of any scarring that may have occurred due to previous treatment of psoriasis or plaques.

Potential Long-Term Benefits for Psoriasis Management

While RLT is not a cure for psoriasis, it can be a valuable tool in long-term management of the condition. Regular use of red light therapy can help to keep symptoms of psoriasis flares at bay, reduce the frequency and treatment of psoriasis flare-ups, and improve the overall quality of life for individuals with psoriasis. Furthermore, as a non-invasive and drug-free first treatment of psoriasis, RLT offers a low-risk option for ongoing psoriasis management.

How to Use Red Light Therapy for Psoriasis

Red light therapy (RLT) can be an effective treatment for psoriasis when used correctly. Here, we'll provide guidelines for selecting the right device, recommended treatment frequency and duration, and important safety precautions to consider.

Guidelines for Selecting the Right Red Light Therapy Device

When choosing an RLT device for psoriasis treatment, consider the following factors:

  • Wavelength: Look for devices that emit light in the red and near-infrared spectrum, typically between 630nm and 850nm, as these wavelengths are most effective for skin conditions.

  • Power density: The device should have an appropriate power density (measured in mW/cm²) to ensure effective treatment. Consult with a healthcare professional or the device manufacturer for recommendations.

  • Size and coverage: Choose a device that can cover the affected areas adequately. For widespread psoriasis, larger panels or full-body devices may be more suitable than handheld units.

  • Quality and safety: Opt for devices from reputable manufacturers that have been tested for safety and efficacy. Look for certifications such as FDA approval or CE marking.

Recommended Treatment Frequency and Duration

The optimal treatment frequency and duration can vary depending on the severity of your psoriasis and the specific device used. Generally, the following guidelines can be followed:

  • Frequency: Most studies suggest using RLT 3-5 times per week for psoriasis treatment.

  • Duration: Each treatment session should last between 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the device's intensity and the distance from the skin.

  • Consistency: Regular, consistent treatment sessions are crucial for achieving the best results. It may take several weeks to see noticeable improvements.

Safety Precautions and Potential Side Effects

Red light therapy is generally considered safe, but it's important to take the following precautions:

  • Eye protection: Wear protective goggles or glasses during treatment to shield your eyes from the bright light.

  • Skin sensitivity: Start with shorter treatment sessions and gradually increase the duration as your skin adapts. If you experience any discomfort or skin irritation, reduce the frequency or duration of treatment.

  • Medical conditions: Consult with your healthcare provider before starting RLT if you have any medical conditions or are taking medications that may increase your sensitivity to light.

While side effects are rare, some individuals may experience temporary redness, itching, or rash in the treated areas. If any adverse reactions occur, discontinue use and consult a healthcare professional.

Combining Red Light Therapy with Other Psoriasis Treatments

Red light therapy (RLT) can be an effective complementary treatment for psoriasis, working alongside traditional therapies to enhance overall treatment outcomes. In this section, we'll explore how RLT can be integrated with other psoriasis treatments and the potential benefits of combining these approaches.

How Red Light Therapy Can Complement Traditional Psoriasis Treatments

RLT offers a unique mechanism of action that differs from conventional psoriasis treatments. By reducing inflammation, promoting skin healing, and modulating immune responses, RLT can provide additional therapeutic effects treat psoriasis that complement the action of traditional treatments. When used in conjunction with other therapies, RLT can help to reduce psoriasis symptoms:

  • Accelerate the healing process of psoriasis lesions.

  • Enhance the effectiveness of topical and systemic medications.

  • Reduce the severity and frequency of psoriasis flare-ups.

Combining Red Light Therapy with Topical Treatments

Topical therapies for psoriasis symptoms include corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, and coal tar.. Combining these treatments with RLT can enhance their effectiveness by:

  • Improving the penetration of topical medications into the skin.

  • Reducing inflammation and redness, which can make topical treatments more effective.

  • Soothing the skin and alleviating itching, which can reduce the need for frequent application of topical treatments.

Combining Red Light Therapy with Phototherapy

Phototherapy, or light therapy, is another common treatment for psoriasis that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to slow the growth of skin cells. While psoriasis phototherapy typically uses UVB light like Excimer Laser, combining it with RLT can offer additional benefits:

  • RLT can provide complementary healing effects without the risks associated with UV exposure, such as skin aging and increased cancer risk.

  • Using RLT in conjunction with UVB phototherapy may enhance the overall effectiveness of light-based treatments for psoriasis.

  • Introduction Phototherapy for psoriasis Clinical effects of UV light and the regulatory pathways Pulsed dye laser treatment

Combining Red Light Therapy with Systemic Medications

For moderate to treat psoriasis, mild to moderate psoriasis and severe psoriasis, systemic medications, including biologics, methotrexate, and cyclosporine, may be prescribed. RLT can complement these treatments by:

  • Reducing the overall inflammation in the body, which can make systemic medications more effective.

  • Providing symptomatic relief from itching and discomfort, which can improve the patient's quality of life while undergoing systemic treatment.

Precautions and Considerations

While red light therapy (RLT) is generally considered safe and non-invasive, there are certain precautions and considerations to keep in mind before starting treatment. In this section, we'll discuss who should avoid RLT, potential side effects, and the importance of consulting with a healthcare professional.

Who Should Avoid Red Light Therapy

Although RLT is safe for most people, there are a few exceptions. Individuals who should avoid or use caution with RLT include:

  • Those with photosensitive skin conditions: People with skin conditions that are aggravated by light exposure, such as lupus or porphyria, should avoid RLT or consult with a doctor before use.

  • Those taking photosensitizing medications: Certain medications can increase sensitivity to light, so individuals taking these drugs should consult with their healthcare provider before starting RLT.

  • Pregnant women: While there is no direct evidence that RLT is harmful during pregnancy, it is generally recommended that pregnant women consult with their healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.

Possible Side Effects and How to Minimize Them

RLT is well-tolerated by most individuals, but some may experience mild side effects, including:

  • Temporary redness or irritation: This is usually mild and subsides shortly after treatment.

  • Eye strain or discomfort: It's important to use eye protection or close your eyes during facial treatments to avoid discomfort.

  • Headache: Some people may experience a mild headache after RLT, which typically resolves on its own.

To minimize side effects, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the RLT device, use the device for the recommended duration, and start with shorter treatment sessions to gauge your skin's response.

Importance of Consulting with a Healthcare Professional Before Starting Red Light Therapy

Before starting RLT for psoriasis, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist or primary care physician. They can help determine whether RLT is a suitable and effective treatment option for your specific condition and guide you on how to use it to treat psoriasis safely and effectively. Additionally, they can monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed.

Cost and Accessibility

Red light therapy (RLT) has become increasingly popular as a treatment option for various conditions, including psoriasis. However, the cost and accessibility of RLT can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of device, the treatment setting, and insurance coverage. In this section, we'll provide an overview of these considerations, including a mention of Koze Health and efficacy of blue light therapy devices.

Overview of the Cost of Red Light Therapy Devices and Treatments

The cost of RLT devices can range from under $200 for small, handheld units to several thousand dollars for full-body panels or professional-grade equipment. The price typically depends on the size of the device, the quality of the Light emitting diode, and the brand.

For treating psoriasis, area for example, Koze Health offers a range of light therapy devices that cater to different needs and budgets. Their products are designed to provide effective and convenient at-home treatment options for conditions like psoriasis.

Insurance Coverage and Affordability Options

In most cases, RLT is not covered by insurance, as it is often considered a cosmetic or experimental treatment. However, this can vary depending on your insurance provider and the specific treatment being sought. It's always a good idea to check with your insurance company to see if any part of the treatment might be covered.

For those concerned about affordability, some options can help reduce the cost of RLT:

  • Payment plans: Some manufacturers, including Koze Health, may offer payment plans to spread the cost of the device over time.

  • Discounts: Keep an eye out for discounts, promotions, or sales that can lower the price of RLT devices.

  • Flex Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs): If you have an FSA or HSA, you may be able to use these funds to purchase an RLT device.

Availability of Red Light Therapy at Home vs. in a Clinical Setting

RLT can be administered in both clinical settings, such as dermatology clinics or wellness centers, and in the comfort of your own home using a personal device. Each option has its pros and cons:

  • Clinical setting: Treatment in a clinical setting is typically administered by a professional, ensuring proper usage and dosage. However, it can be more expensive and less convenient than at-home treatment, as it requires regular visits to the clinic.

  • At-home treatment: Personal RLT devices, like those offered by Koze Health, allow for more flexibility and convenience, as you can use them at your own pace and schedule. While the initial investment in a device may be higher, it can be more cost-effective in the long run compared to repeated clinical visits.

FAQs

  1. Is red light therapy safe for all types of psoriasis?

    Red light therapy is generally considered safe for most types of psoriasis, but it's important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine if it's suitable for your specific condition.

  2. How long does it take to see results from red light therapy for psoriasis?

    Results can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual's response to treatment. Some people may see improvements within a few weeks, while others may need longer treatment periods.

  3. Can red light therapy cure psoriasis?

    While red light therapy can help manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for psoriasis sufferers, it is not a cure for the condition. Ongoing treatment may be necessary to maintain results.

  4. Are there any side effects of using red light therapy for psoriasis?

    Red light therapy is generally well-tolerated, but some individuals may experience mild side effects such as temporary redness or irritation at the treatment site.

Conclusion

In this comprehensive guide, we've explored the potential of red light therapy (RLT) as a treatment option for treating psoriasis further. RLT offers a range of benefits for psoriasis sufferers, including the reduction of inflammation and redness, alleviation of itching and discomfort, and improvement in skin texture and appearance. When combined with traditional treatments, RLT can enhance overall management of the condition and improve the quality of life for those affected nail psoriasis.

If you are considering RLT as part of your psoriasis treatment regimen, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider. They can help you determine if RLT is suitable for your specific needs and guide you on how to use it safely and effectively.

We invite our readers to share their experiences with red light therapy for psoriasis patients or ask any questions they may have in the comments section below. Your insights and inquiries can help others in their journey to find relief from psoriasis.

References

Here are some references that can provide further information on red light therapy for psoriasis patients:

1. Avci, P., Gupta, A., Sadasivam, M., Vecchio, D., Pam, Z., Pam, N., & Hamblin, M. R. (2013). Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin cancer: stimulating, healing, restoring. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, 32(1), 41-52

2. Ablon, G. (2010). Phototherapy with Light Emitting Diodes: Treating a Broad Range of Medical and Aesthetic Conditions in Dermatology. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 3(2), 42–49.

3. Kleinpenning, M. M., Smits, T., Frunt, M. H., van Erp, P. E., van de Kerkhof, P. C., & Gerritsen, R. M. (2012). Clinical and histological effects of blue light on normal skin. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine, 28(1), 16-21.

4. Mai-Yi Fan, S., Cheng, Y. P., Lee, M. Y., Lin, S. J., Chiu, H. Y. (2020). Efficacy and Safety of Phototherapy in the Management of Eczema. Dermatology Practical & Conceptual, 10(1), e2020024.

5. Mester, E., Spiry, T., Szende, B., & Tota, J. G. (1971). Effect of laser rays on wound healing. American Journal of Surgery, 122(4), 532-535.

These references provide a mix of clinical research and review articles that discuss the mechanisms, efficacy, and applications of red light therapy in dermatology, including clinical review of its use for conditions like psoriasis.