Treatment of Inflammatory Facial Acne Vulgaris with Intense Pulsed Light and Short Contact of Topical 5-Aminolevulinic Acid: A Pilot Study

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Photodynamic therapy (PDT) with topical 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) and red light (550–700 nm) has been introduced for effective treatment of facial acne. Untoward side effects are common, however.


To evaluate the efficacy and safety of the short contact of topical ALA and intense pulsed light (IPL) in treatment of inflammatory facial acne.


Fourteen patients with inflammatory facial acne were treated with IPL on the left side and combination of IPL and topical ALA on the right side at 3- to 4-week intervals for three sessions. Clinical photographs and lesion counts were obtained for evaluation.


All patients revealed a reduction in number of acne lesions on both sides. On the ALA-pretreated side, lesion counts decreased 87.7% at 12 weeks after the last treatment (p<.01). Meanwhile, lesion counts on the nonpretreated side decreased 66.8% (p<.01). In addition, a number of lesion counts on the ALA-pretreated side decreased. Mild edema and minimal crust developed on the combined-treatment side.


Short contact of topical ALA and IPL or IPL alone showed some beneficial effect in treatment of inflammatory facial acne; however, degree of improvement was better and remained longer with the combined regimen. Side effects were mild and reversible.

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