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What is blue light skin treatment?

A:

Quick Answer

Blue light skin treatment, or photodynamic therapy, uses a combination of light and photosensitizing drugs to treat precancerous lesions and localized cancers of the skin. As of 2015, PDT is used by some treatment centers but not widely used for cancer treatment, according to the American Cancer Society.

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Full Answer

Photodynamic therapy, developed in Europe, works by applying a light-sensitizing chemical solution to precancerous and cancerous skin lesions and activating it with blue light to destroy those cells. It has an advantage over other methods, such as cryotherapy, topical chemotherapy, and chemical or laser resurfacing, in that it allows for the treatment of larger areas with less discomfort, according to the University of Iowa.

A chemical solution of photosensitizing agents is applied to a targeted area and allowed to absorb for about an hour in a darkened room, after which the skin is exposed to blue light for approximately 17 minutes. The lesions usually heal within one week, but patients continue to be sensitive to light and sunburn for a period of time afterward, as reported by the University of Iowa.

In some cases, the photosensitizing agents may be injected into the bloodstream, from which they are then absorbed by the precancerous or cancerous cells and subjected to blue light. PDT may also generate the immune system response to attack and stop blood vessels from supplying the cells, according to the American Cancer Society.

PDT is confined to places where light can reach the targeted areas, and it is not intended for the treatment of cancers that have spread or for patients with certain blood disorders, notes the American Cancer Society.

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