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The Effects of UV Light on Acne

author image Kristie Jernigan
Kristie Jernigan is a health writer with over 17 years of experience as a medical social worker. She has worked mainly with the elderly population and with children. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and early childhood from East Tennessee State University and a Master of Science in health care administration and gerontology from the University of Phoenix.
The Effects of UV Light on Acne
A woman lounges in the sun by the ocean. Photo Credit: Osuleo/iStock/Getty Images

According to the University of Chicago, acne affects about 80 percent of the population. UV light has been proven to have a positive effect on the treatment of acne. But, UV light from the sun can be dangerous. According to Health Directory, artificial UV light has a beneficial purpose, activating a natural substance in the human body called porphyrin that kills bacteria. According to the University of Chicago, there is a 90 percent improvement in the acne after three UV light sessions.

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Kills Bacteria

UV (ultraviolet) light has been proven to kill bacteria on the skin of acne sufferers. According to, a bacterium known as propionibacterium lives on the skin of acne sufferers. This bacterium can result in a skin breakdown and can even lead to serious infections, noticeable inflammation and redness as well as pain and discomfort. UV light has been proven to help with killing this bacterium so that the skin condition and/or infection can improve. This treatment allows the body’s immune defense to regain some control and be better able to help fight off this disease.

Reduces Infection

At times, acne can become very infected. This can lead to large pustules developing on the skin or just underneath the skin. In the past the treatment for this type of condition has been oral antibiotics as well as the use of creams and salves to help cure the condition. According to, infected acne can not only be embarrassing but can lead to severe scarring which can be permanent and leave lasting reminders of the acne you once suffered from. UV light has been shown to improve infections, even ones that are more severe and have been harder to get under control. This is because the light therapy helps to kill bacteria that are leading to these serious infections.

Reduces Inflammation

Sometimes acne can leave a person’s skin looking very red and inflamed looking. This can be due to a worsening case of acne or from infections that have gotten just under the skin. The red and irritated skin can become very disfiguring. According to the Psoriasis Café, a resource for treatment solutions for psoriasis and acne, UV light has an anti-inflammatory effect and actually reduces swelling and irritation. This allows the person a chance to recover from a disease that has destroyed their self esteem and as a result affected their personal and social life.

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