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Light Therapy for Bacterial Acne

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for Israeli-based Lumenis Inc. to market the ClearLight system, which uses a narrow-band, high-intensity light known as blue light to attack the bacteria in pimples.

Blue light is not ultraviolet light, which can damage skin, and it isn't a variation of laser therapy, either. The FDA points out that tests have shown this type of treatment works only on inflammatory acne, which is caused by bacteria. So it won't work on pockmarked faces that result from severe acne.

The Associated Press quotes Neil Ogden, FDA's director of general-surgery devices, as saying that ClearLight is thought to cause no side effects.

According to Lumenis, the clinical trials involved about 48 patients with moderate inflammatory acne. Half the face was treated with the ClearLight, and it was compared with the untreated side of the face.

The results weren't overwhelming, but they were encouraging, according to what Ogden told the AP. About half the patients who finished all eight treatments had at least a 50 percent decrease in the number of pimples, he said.

Prescription drugs like Accutane and several antibiotics are used to treat the most difficult cases of acne. There are also a wide variety of over-the-counter medications and creams available.

Lumenis says its ClearLight system is designed to be used by dermatologists.