Can you treat Acne with your iPhone ?

Written by on March 10, 2010 in Acne Treatments, LED Therapy with 4 Comments

Thanks to ClinuvelNews for highlighting the a $1.99 USD application available for your iPhone that is said to treat your acne. The application displays a red or blue screen which you then hold up to your face, supposedly allowing your skin to be treated while you make a phone call.

Here are example screen shots of what the introductory and red and blue screens look like when running the Acne Application.

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AcneApp also scored a brief mention last December in the New York Times article Better Skin to the Touch? The piece offers the opinion from its creator that a lot more clinical study is required before any efficacy can be quantified. Dr. Pearson is said to fascinated by the concept of users treating their acne while talking on the phone.

An iPhone application is a small program that you can download and run on your phone.

According to a piece in WebMD, Dr. Pearson was not available to comment on the application, nor is his office able to comment on or support users of the application.

This application is no doubt only garnering publicity because it is not a free application. If the application was free it could easily be characterised as only being for entertainment value. Once an application costs money and looks like it treats a medical condition, it is natural for readers’ interests to be piqued.

So what is going on here ? The use of LED therapy to treat skin conditions is a hot topic. Various studies have shown that red and blue LEDs can offer anti-inflammatory benefits to some of the symptoms of acne and rosacea. The display on the iPhone is a LED display. The makers of this phone application want us to make the leap of faith that because the iPhone can display colors that are thought to be helpful, LED therapy is literally just a phone call away.

Dr. Pariser, president of the AAD says that the output from the iPhone would need to increase a thousands times to match treatments available from professional LED treatments.

Can You Treat Acne With an iPhone App?

AcneApp Promises to Clear Skin With Light Therapy; Dermatologists Express Doubts

By Kathleen Doheny, WebMD Health News. Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 12, 2010 — iPhone users love their apps, so it’s no surprise that AcneApp, a light-based therapy, is drawing interest from the blemish-prone who like the concept of zapping zits while talking to friends.

It’s supposed to work like this: Download the application and hold the phone to the skin so the light therapy can do its work. Multitask if you wish, remembering to switch sides so your entire face gets the treatment.

But more than four months after its release, there are still no clinical studies proving it works. Other dermatologists express doubt it could help, and users are giving it mixed reviews — from terrific to skeptical.

Though the wavelength of light used in the AcneApp is similar to that used in office-based light treatments, the intensity of the light used by dermatologists “is at least thousands of times greater,” agrees David Pariser, MD, a Norfolk, Va., dermatologist and president of the American Academy of Dermatology. “I would be very surprised if there is enough intensity of the light [from AcneApp] to make any difference.”

So aside from wasting $1.99 and still coping with zits, is there any potential harm?

Yes, Rahimi says. “I am worried about the patient with deep cystic acne and open, draining sores that uses this app.” Bacteria on the phone could lead to a skin infection, he says.

The application is available from the iTunes Store: AcneApp, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

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Read more about: Acne Treatments, LED Therapy

About the Author

About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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4 Reader Comments

  1. Jenny says:

    What will they think of next?! Sorry but I could visualise a person using their iPod on their forehead whilst yelling loudly to be heard on the phone! LOL
    My opion is that it would have to be way more powerful than a small iPod to help. Sleeping under my red LED array suits me just fine! :o)

  2. Oded Wolff says:

    I love the I-phone apps, but some are just a big joke!
    A little sunlight will have so much more effect than this app!
    The wave length that is used (blue or red light) penetrates the skin (outer layer or epidermis) superficially or deeper. The strength of the light @ dermatologists office is much stronger than the I-phone can produce. To reach the same amount of energy, I guess you have to keep the I-phone on your face for a couple of hours….and that a multiple amount of times because of the little field of action.

    I sincerely doubt the effect of this app!

    Oded Wolff, dermatologist

  3. Irene McDonald says:

    Great marketing for this app. It’s been talked about and tweeted for months. Bad luck about the actual application. I’d expect the phone you’re holding against the acne being treated to have some ripe bacteria.
    I’ll stick to Retrieve Vitamin A thanks.

  4. David Pascoe says:

    A good point Irene, anyone with an iPhone or iPad can see just how much oil and gunk accumulates on the glass. ewwww.

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