ALA and Phototherapy for Acne

Title: Effectiveness of photodynamic therapy with topical 5-aminolevulinic acid and intense pulsed light versus intense pulsed light alone in the treatment of acne vulgaris: comparative study.
Santos MA, Belo VG, Santos G
Publication: Dermatol Surg. 2005 Aug;31(8 Pt 1):910-5.

When applied to the skin, a photosensitizing agent called 5-aminolevulinic acid or ALA is converted to a chemical that makes the skin very sensitive to light. In this study, the author applied 20% ALA solution to half of the faces of 13 patients with varying degrees of acne and 3 hours later, subjected them to intense pulsed light device. This procedure was done twice at a 2-week interval.

The authors note that there was no apparent improvement on both sides of the face after 2 weeks (indeed, in some patients, acute acne breakouts occur on the ALA-side of their faces). After 4 to 8 weeks, however, significant improvements are found in the ALA side of the patient’s face. The authors concluded that ALA application prior to intense pulsed light therapy may have positive results.

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