You may have seen advertisements for red light therapy lamps, and wonder if they really are the cure-all that the manufacturers claim. Well, they pretty much are! Red light therapy has been proven effective in healing a wide variety of issues, from skin issues to seasonal affective disorder to muscle and joint problems and more. You don’t even have to go to a doctor’s office to have red light therapy. You can get one of those lamps you’ve seen advertised, and do your own treatments in the comfort of your own home.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Light therapy was originally used by NASA, to grow plants in outer space. Scientists have since come to discover that red light therapy has many therapeutic benefits, and it is non-invasive and all-natural. This type of therapy can be used to treat sleep disorders, depression, seasonal affective disorder, skin conditions, joint pain, and much more.
Light therapy involves being exposed to daylight, or artificial light that mimics the rays of the sun. Red light therapy is another term for the science of photobiomodulation. The red light assists in activation adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in muscle tissues, which in turn releases energy to the body.
Treatments involve shining the light on the area of the body that is affected. For instance, if you suffer from headaches, you would place the light so it is focused on your forehead, and move it back and forth until the pain begins to subside, and finally go away.
How it Works
Red light can penetrate the skin by as much as 8-10 mm. The light is absorbed by the skin, and then converted into cellular energy. This helps to stimulate the natural processes of the body at the cellular level. Some of the things red light therapy can do for your body include:
- Increased circulation
- Formation of new capillaries
- Increased activity in the lymph system
- Increased collagen production
- Higher release of cellular energy
- Reduced inflammation
Red light therapy involves the use of wavelengths of light. These wavelengths are approximately 620 nm and 700 nm, with home-use products averaging 630 nm to 660 nm. Some manufacturers will claim that their lights are the best, because they use only the most effective wavelengths. Ignore these claims. All ranges of visible red light wavelengths are beneficial to your health. Many of the better quality red light therapy lamps use more than one wavelength.
One of the things that people like most about red light therapy is that it is holistic. It is one hundred percent natural, and there are absolutely no side-effect. Even better, it actually works! It is FDA approved for pain relief and anti-aging, and soon it will be approved for use in caring for wounds. Other terms for red light therapy include biostimulation (BIOS), photobiomodulation, and photobiostimulation.
This type of therapy is used in Eastern medicine, and focuses on the chakra zones, or the body’s energy system. One type of therapy is known as “colorpuncture”. It works much like acupuncture, but there are no needles, just tiny beams of red light.
How Soon before You Start to See Results?
Many people say that they notice a bit of improvement in the condition they are trying to treat with red light therapy within the first 24 hours. It can take up to two months of use to really notice any significant difference. Here is what you can expect from red light therapy:
- Healthy Glow – Noticeable within 24 hours
- Pain Relief – When used with infrared light, pain begins to ease in less than 20 minutes
- Skin Healing – Minimal results are often noticeable within 24 hours
- Non Healing Wounds – Wounds that have not healed, such as diabetic wounds, will start to heal gradually
- Scars – Scars, including acne scars, will begin to fade within two weeks
Red Light Therapy and Near Red Infrared Light Therapy
While many people think the terms red light therapy and near red infrared light therapy are interchangeable, they actually have a couple of differences. Red light is visible. Near infrared light is not visible. Also, near infrared light can penetrate deeper than regular red light, for better healing. When used in conjunction, you get the maximum dose of red light healing power.
How is LED Red Light Therapy Different from other Types of Red Light Treatments?
There are several things that make red light therapy a lot different from other types of treatments for a variety of conditions, including other types of light therapy. For instance, red LED light offers a tighter span of wavelength than incandescent or fluorescent light. Here are some more interesting facts about LED red light therapy.
- No Heat Generated – This is light therapy that doesn’t get hot. You can enjoy using it for extended periods of time, and it will always be comfortable and soothing.
- Long Lasting – You can expect a red light therapy lamp to last for several years, and you will not have to replace the bulbs.
- Eco-Friendly – LED lights use a lot less energy than other types of lighting. Also, because it lasts longer, there will be fewer light bulbs taking up landfill space.
- Easy to Use – Most LED red light therapy devices are small enough that they can be taken with you just about anywhere. They are generally hand-held devices.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Are you ready for this? The list of benefits of red light therapy is going to be a long one, so sit back, relax, and get ready to learn about the many things that this type of holistic therapy can do for you. Let’s start with the overall benefits of red light therapy. The greatest overall benefit is that it is completely natural, and a drug-free way to treat numerous conditions. Other benefits include:
- No chemicals
- Non-invasive (no surgery or needles)
- No damage to the skin (no UV rays)
- Pain-free treatments
- Safe to use on all skin types
- No downtime after treatments
- Safe for children and adults
- No side-effects
- FDA approved
- Easy to do at home
So, these are just a few of the overall benefits. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of red light therapy for your skin, wounds, injuries, and pain.
Red Light Therapy for Your Skin
One of the most popular uses of red light therapy is for treating skin disorders. Even if you don’t have problem skin, it can help to give you a healthy glow and smooth out your overall skin tone. Other benefits of red light therapy for your skin include:
- Builds collagen and helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Speeds the healing time of acne and other blemishes
- Repairs damage from the sun
- Reduces redness in the skin
- Helps to fade stretch marks and scars
- Stimulates hair growth and prevents hair loss
Red light therapy can be used to treat a number of skin conditions, including:
- Dry skin
- Cuts and scrapes
- Cold sore
Red Light Therapy for Injuries, Wounds, and Pain Relief
Red light therapy has been proven to help speed up the healing time of wounds and injuries, even wounds that have not healed well with other treatments. It can help to reduce pain and inflammation, and improve your range of motion. Some of the conditions that can be treated by red light therapy include:
- Back pain
- Broken bones
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Knee pain
- Shoulder pain
- Foot pain
- Neck pain
- Post-surgical pain
- Torn ligaments
- Surgical wounds
Frequently Asked Questions about Red Light Therapy
Most people have a lot of questions about red light therapy. For instance, many people wonder if it will work through their clothing. The answer to this question is no. Regular red light will be absorbed by the fabric, and it won’t get to the skin where it is needed. But, near infrared light can be used through clothing and bandages or dressings.
Let’s take a look at some more of the most commonly-asked questions about red light therapy.
How often should you use red light therapy?
This will depend on what you are trying to treat, and the type of red light therapy device you use. Most conditions require a minimum of two weeks of regular use, followed by weekly or twice-weekly usage for maintenance. After you begin to notice results, continue using the light, because the skin cells are just starting to repair themselves. Continue treatments until you reach your goal, and then begin the maintenance. Do not discontinue use to ensure that the results will last in the long-term.
Can you use red light therapy twice daily?
Red light therapy is all-natural, and safe to use. It is not going to be a problem if you want to do two treatments each day.
Can you overdose on red light therapy?
Even though it is a natural form of treatment, it is possible to get too much red light therapy. If you use the light for too long, it can actually make the effects less noticeable.
Can anyone benefit from red light therapy?
Yes, anyone can benefit from the effects of red light therapy. Use it for skin treatments, inflammation, pain relief, and a whole lot more. Results will vary from person to person, but most people will start to notice results without 24 to 48 hours of beginning treatments, and within 20 minutes if they are using it for pain relief.
Can red light therapy be used with other light therapy?
We touched on this earlier. Yes, many people will see better results for certain conditions when they combine different types of light therapy. For instance, some therapies involve using two different colors of light. Many devices are available that offer two to three colors of light. Many people use a combination of red and amber for anti-aging. You can use more than one color at the same time, or use them separately.
Can you use skin care products and red light therapy at the same time?
Unlike with other types of skin treatments, it is perfectly safe to use your regular skin care products while you are doing red light therapy treatments. Just make sure that your face is clean of all products before each treatment. After you do the treatment, you can go about your regular routine for skin care. Some products can block the light, and some can cause irritation to the skin when exposed to intense light (vitamin A, Retin-A, benzoyl peroxide, and alcohol).
What about prescription skin care products?
If you are using prescription skin care products, it is best to speak with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning red light therapy, or any other kind of light therapy. Some medications can cause the skin to be more sensitive to light. You can likely still use the red light, but you may have to use it for shorter periods of time.
Can you use red light therapy after having Botox injections?
Most doctors will tell you to wait a minimum of two weeks after having Botox injections before you use any type of light therapy.
Can you use red light therapy if you have sensitive skin?
Unless your doctor or dermatologist has told you not to use light therapy, it should not be a problem for any skin type or skin tone.
Is red light therapy okay to use if you have tattoos?
The verdict is still out on this one. Some say that having the pigments could cause the skin to absorb more light, but there is no actual proof of this. The biggest concern would be having the tattoo fade. While this is something that does happen when tattoos are exposed to prolonged periods of sunlight, there are no UV rays emitted with red light therapy. But, at this point, it is still not known if tattoos will be affected by red light. If you have tattoos, you may want to cover them with bandages while using red light. The only problem is that the light will not penetrate the bandages to treat a problem. Hopefully, there are no problems near your tattoos.
Do you need to wear protective goggle while using red light therapy?
You don’t always need to wear the protective goggles. It depends on what part of the body you are doing the red light therapy on. If you are not using it on your face, you don’t need to wear the goggles. They are meant to protect your eyes from the light, but if it is not shining in your face, they aren’t necessary. You will need to wear them if you are treating your face. Red light is not harmful to the eyes, but any light can be annoying if you are light sensitive. It is recommend that you always wear goggles when using a combination of red and blue light.
If you are looking for a painless, healthy way to treat skin conditions, minimize the appearance of scarring and wrinkles, heal injuries and wounds, and get pain relief, red light therapy may be the answer to your prayers. It is a safe and effective way to treat a number of conditions, and you don’t need to have a prescription to get a lamp and do your own treatments at home.