Topical aminolevulinic acid-photodynamic therapy for the treatment of acne vulgaris


Background: Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is useful for the treatment of epidermal neoplasia but may also have use in the treatment of inflammatory dermatoses. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of PDT in the treatment of acne on the face.

Methods: Eight patients with mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris on the face were treated with one session of topical aminolevulinic acid (ALA)-PDT using a red light. Each patient's face was divided into two areas (right side and left side) for ALA-PDT and untreated control. Twenty percent topical ALA was applied with 4 h occlusion, and 18 J/cm2 red light (630±63 nm) was administered. Each patient's acne was visually assessed by a spot count of both inflamed and non-inflamed lesions at baseline and at 1, 3, and 6 months following PDT.

Results: At 1, 3, and 6 months, the mean percentage reduction in inflamed lesions count was 27.6%, 37.9%, and 41.9%, respectively, in the ALA-PDT-treated area, whereas in the control area, it was 8.0%, 14.7%, and 15.4%, respectively, compared with the baseline. This showed a higher reduction of a spot count of inflamed lesions in the ALA-PDT-treated area, which was statistically significant (P<0.05). There was a slightly higher reduction of a spot count of non-inflamed lesions in the ALA-PDT-treated area, which was statistically not significant (P>0.05). The adverse effects were minimal.

Conclusion: ALA-PDT with red light was found to be effective in the reduction of the number of inflamed lesions in patients with mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris, with no significant short-term adverse effects.