Photodynamic Therapy for Acne in Washington, DC
Acne is a genetic, hormonal disease characterized by overproduction of oil by the sebaceous glands, plugging of the sebaceous glands to form micro- and macro- comedones (blackheads) and, finally, action of skin bacteria or oil trapped underneath the skin, to produce red inflammatory cystic lesions.
Traditional therapies for acne involve keratolytic agents, such as the retinoids, which thin the top layer of skin and unplug the oil glands; topical antiseptics and antibiotics, which diminish the number of bacteria in the skin; and oral antibiotics, which similarly diminish the bacteria. More severe cases of acne can be treated with Accutane, which is a systemic retinoid.
There has been some interest and some research in photodynamic therapy of acne. With photodynamic therapy, a drug that is activated by light is applied to the skin. After a short incubation period skin is exposed to a narrow band of light in the Blu-U illuminator. That light energy causes the release of singlet oxygen molecules, which have the biologic effect of killing P. acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne. The light also seems to cause involution of the sebaceous glands.
Treatment involves a several-step process, done in the office:
Treatments are typically performed at 1-2 month intervals for an initial series of 3-4 treatments. Unfortunately as an off-label use of photodynamic therapy this procedure is not covered by insurance. Treatments are $750 per session. Please call our office if you would like to schedule a dermatology visit to discuss photodynamic therapy.