Photodynamic: How Does the Real Effectiveness of Blue Light with Levulan Compare to Benzoyl Peroxide?

various docs say:[1] "..effectiveness have been inconsistent." "...quite modest in its efficacy for acne treatment." "effects not impressive." yet wiki says:[2] “..improvements of on average 76% for 80% of patients... most studies show that it performs better than benzoyl peroxide..” [1]

Doctor Answers 2

Photodynamic Therapy VS Benzoyl Peroxide

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Acne can be so mild that no one notices it - or so tragically extensive that no one can miss it!

As a topical treatment for mild acne, benzoyl peroxide is a proven over the counter medication. By introducing oxygen into the pore, the P.acnes bacteria can't survive.

But cystic acne has deep seated inflammation and "enclosed" bacterial pockets which can make it impervious to BP. This is where Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) shines.

The Levulan is the key as it is Levulan that penetrates into the oil glands. The activating light (this can be blue or red - red most often reaches more deeply) then causes the Levulan to go to work; muscling the oil glands into a type of submission and also killing off damaged cells and bacteria. In certain instances we will also use Vbeam laser if the situation demands.

There is no comparison between Benzoyl Peroxide and PDT in effectiveness as each act in different ways and for different levels of acne.

Consistency in treatment delivery and protocol creates a consistency in results. There is the matter of proper incubation of the Levulan (must be left on a specified time) and also the adherence of the patient to a complete treatment course.

Irvine Dermatologic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Blue Light & Benzoyl Peroxide

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The two cannot really be compared. Benzoyl peroxide is rarely used alone.  Blue light with Levulan has good efficacy after just one session (depending on the severity of the acne of course) versus the need to apply benzoyl peroxide daily to twice a day to have some effect after many months.  A multi-treatment approach is typically used to treat acne.

Sabrina Fabi, MD
San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 91 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.