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Can a wearable blue-light device clear psoriasis?


A wearable blue-light device differs greatly from the phototherapy treatments that you receive at a hospital or psoriasis treatment center.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a wearable, blue-light device for treating mild psoriasis at home. It offers a gentle treatment that’s easy to use. You simply strap it onto your arm or leg where you have mild psoriasis.

One drawback is that it can only treat mild psoriasis on an arm or leg. However, while treating your psoriasis, you can do something else. You could catch up on emails or listen to music.

Because blue light is UV-free, the device isn’t known to cause skin cancer or signs of premature skin aging, such as wrinkles or age spots. 

If you’re thinking of buying this device, you’re probably wondering how well it works. Here’s what the results from studies show.

Study 1: Treated patch improved continuously during four weeks of treatment

A small number of patients with mild or moderate plaque (plack) psoriasis were enrolled in this clinical trial. The goal was to find out whether blue light could safely and effectively treat psoriasis at home.

Here’s what the study involved and what the patients saw after four weeks of treating the same patch of psoriasis every day with blue light.

Number of patients37
Types of psoriasisMild to moderate plaque psoriasis
Skin colorsFair to darker white skin
GenderMen only
Ages of patients18 to 76 years old
Patient instructionsUse the blue light to treat the same patch of psoriasis every day for 4 weeks.
Side effects No serious side effects occurred. Some patients saw darkening of their skin around the treated patch. This skin darkening started to fade after the treatment ended and cleared completely on its own.
How many treated patches cleared?None
Results

During the 4-week treatment period, every patient saw:

  • Continuous reduction in the size of the treated patch.
  • Less redness and scale on the treated patch.
  • No signs of injured skin or premature skin aging (wrinkles, thinning skin, age spots) from the blue light.

These results led researchers to wonder whether treating a patch of psoriasis for a longer time could safely clear a mild patch of psoriasis.

Study 2: Some patients will benefit from using an LED blue-light device

To find out whether a longer treatment time could clear psoriasis, researchers conducted the following study.

Number of patients47
Types of psoriasisMild psoriasis
Skin colorsPale white skin to light brown skin

Gender

30 men, 17 women
Ages of patients18 to 75 years old
Patient instructionsPatients were to treat 1 patch of psoriasis with blue light.

The first 4 weeks, they were to treat the patch 5 to 7 times a week, using the device no more than once a day. The following 8 weeks, they were told to treat the patch 3 times per week, using the device no more than once a day. Some patients could also apply a psoriasis medication, synthetic vitamin D, to the patch.
Side effectsNo serious side effects. About half of the patients said they had darkening of the skin around the patch of psoriasis treated with blue light. This darkening cleared without treatment.
How many treated patches cleared?Two patients had their treated patch clear.
ResultsHere's a summary of the results that all patients in this study obtained:
  • Two patients had complete clearing of the treated psoriasis patch.
  • Most patients saw some reduction in the size of the psoriasis patch.
  • Some patients had no response to the blue light treatment.
  • No one saw the treated psoriasis worsen with blue light therapy.

The researchers concluded that blue-light treatment is safe to use at home and can reduce psoriasis for some patients.

See your dermatologist first

Before trying any new treatment for your psoriasis, it’s best to talk with a board-certified dermatologist. This doctor may offer advice that can make blue light more effective for you. To give you the best results, a board-certified dermatologist may recommend a different treatment.

Either way, by seeing a board-certified dermatologist, you’ll also make sure that you’re using the mix of treatment, skin care, and trigger avoidance that’s right for you.

Related AAD content


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References
Pfaff S, Liebmann J, et al. “Prospective randomized long-term study on the efficacy and safety of UV-free blue light for treating mild psoriasis vulgaris.” Dermatology 2015;231:24-34.

Weinstabl A, Hoff-Lesch S, et al. “Prospective randomized study on the efficacy of blue light in the treatment of psoriasis vulgaris.” Dermatology 2011;223:251-9.


All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Supported in part by Novartis.

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