If you have back acne, you don’t need me to tell you why you want to get rid of it, so let’s skip right to the how to part.
Most back acne treatments on the market are topical washes and creams. The problem is, you can’t exactly reach your back with those, and you certainly don’t want to ask anybody to do it for you.
Good news. There is a relatively new and nearly perfect way to get rid of back acne. It’s called blue light therapy.
Blue light therapy is part of the larger field of light therapy called photobiomodulation.
Blue light has been used medically for decades. For example, you might already know that blue light therapy is the standard medical treatment for babies with jaundice.
More recently it was discovered that blue light kills acne bacteria. Blue light for acne treatment has actually been around since 2002, when it was FDA approved for the treatment of mild-moderate inflammatory acne (acne vulgaris.) Usually, back acne is exactly that kind of acne.
How does blue light work for back acne treatment?
Studies have shown that blue light kills acne bacteria by causing it to self destruct. (No other cells in your body are damaged.)
Once the acne bacteria is dead, your body’s natural healing process takes over and the acne gradually disappears over the next few days. Blue light is not a cure, but regular daily treatments can keep back acne under control for most people.
Blue light acne treatment is 100% natural and works without creams or drugs. It is completely safe, without side effects, and can be very simply self-administered in the privacy of your own home.
But does it work fast?
Yes, it works fast. You can reasonably expect visible acne spots to reduce in size and severity by about 40% after 24 hours of each treatment with blue light. So if you do a blue light treatment in the morning, by the next morning there should be visible improvement.
Please keep in mind that this is relative. If you have mild inflammatory acne on your back, it’s going to go away much faster than if you have severe or cystic acne on your back.
Another thing to remember is that this is not a cure. Light therapy is not going to fix the hormone imbalance causing your acne. So you will have to use light therapy consistently to keep it under control. How often will be different for everyone.
Red light makes blue light work even better.
I don’t want to complicate things. Blue light alone is a very effective acne treatment, and really all you need to get rid of back acne fast. But once you start doing more research, you’re going to hear about red light for acne treatment, too. What’s that about?
Red light works for acne treatment in three major ways:
- red light reduces inflammation. So when acne is red and painful, red light helps reduce that redness and swelling and pain.
- red light helps skin heal faster. So red light in combination with blue will usually get rid of active acne faster.
- red light helps skin heal without scarring, and helps heal existing scars. If scarring is a concern of yours, you should add red light to your blue light therapy.
How Do You Get This Treatment?
You can still get light therapy for acne at some dermatologist’s offices, but I don’t really recommend that route because it’s expensive, it’s time consuming, and it’s not a cure, so you’ll have to keep going back.
In-home acne light therapy products are are just as effective as the same therapy given at the dermatologist, they just cover a smaller area at a time. In-home products are available in blue light, red light and combinations of both.
The most light therapy device for acne right now is the Neutragena Light Therapy Acne Mask. It’s very affordable, trouble is, it’s designed for your face and that’s it. You need a different type of light for your back. Fortunately, there are better options. Here’s the best two options for back acne treatment:
There are lots of hand-held acne lights on the market ranging in price from about $50 – $500. (I know that’s a huge price range, I’ll talk about specific products further down this page.)
With one of these devices it would be pretty easy to reach the back of your neck, top of your shoulders and, depending on your flexibility, a few inches down your back. Treatment times are about 3 minutes per coverage area so the larger the size of the treatment head, the better. Specific products are covered below.
Option #2 – Bulbs or Powerheads
A light therapy bulb has many advantages over other types of devices, and versatility is on top of the list. A bulb usually has a standard size neck so it can be used with any type of fixture that’s best for you. We’ve found that clamp-on fixtures work really well for back acne treatment. A floor standing lamp with a goose neck could also be good.
Here’s an example of back acne treatment using the a bulb in a clamp-on fixture. You can see it’s a hands-free treatment and it covers a much bigger area than a hand-held device could. The position of the light can be adjusted to any height or angle to cover your whole back and shoulders.
A Discussion of Specific Product Options
Just so you know, some of the following links are affiliate links. That means if you click a link then purchase the product, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. If I sell the product myself, I will also make that clear. Here we go.
Once you start looking, you’re going to find lots of different product options out there, even in just these two categories. In case you’re like me and you need to know everything, I’m going to cover most of them.
Here’s the one’s we’re skipping and why.
- Masks. Designed only for the face.
- Pen lights / flashlights. Designed for 1 zit at a time in a spot you can reach.
- Table-top panels. Usually designed for the face only. I’ll cover one or two that might work below.
Hand-Held Lights for Back Acne
reVive Light Therapy® Essentials—Acne Treatment $49.
This is little and the LEDs are pretty far apart. Since it has no handle, you are limited to what you can realistically reach. It’s cute, but it’s not really good for back acne treatment. There are better options at this price point in the bulbs category later.
Baby Quasar CLEAR RAYZ Skincare Therapy Device $249.
This one is a similar size but the LEDs are closer together and it is reversible with red light on the other side. Cool design. But it has the same limitation of having no handle, so it’s good for neck and shoulders but not much more.
Project E Beauty…Bacteria Killing…Device $69.99
When you are shopping around you will come across this blue light. It seems like a decent light, especially for the price, but the angle of that neck makes it no good for back acne treatment.
reVive LED Light Therapy Acne Treatment System $99
Now we get into the lights with handles, giving you some realistic reach down your back. This is the lowest price point in this category. It has a 3 minute treatment time per area. I couldn’t find the diameter of this model. It has a big brother for $199 which boasts an 83% larger treatment area. The reVive acne lights are FDA cleared.
The LightStim for Acne $169
This device seems to be about the same size as the one above, but it combines blue and red light into one device. That’s very convenient and time saving if you wanted to add red light to your treatments. The handle on the LightStim looks a little longer, giving you a little more reach. The LightStim is FDA cleared.
Baby Quasar – Baby Blue $399.00
This is a nice little light. Really, it’s like the luxury model. Only trouble is, the treatment head is tiny. There is a larger version for $595.00, but it still way to small for realistic back acne treatment.
Bulbs & Powerheads
RubyLux has a few bulbs with some blue in them, and they’re affordable, but there is not enough blue to do the job.
There are at least three blue lights in the Grow Light Bulbs category. Grow lights are sold for plants, so you’re not going to get any support for acne treatment. However, they are a very affordable option if you are a DIY type of person. You will need either a clamp on fixture or an adjustable floor standing lamp to make the best use of these for back acne.
Blue Grow Light by Esbaybulbs – 24 Watt – $21.99
36 Watt – $24.99. 2 year warranty. I didn’t find red in this style on Amazon.
While we’re on the subject of grow lights, there’s this one by HQRP for $31.95 I’m not saying it’s ideal, but it would give you the largest treatment area. Even if the LEDs were relatively far apart, if you didn’t lay it in the exact same spot every day you could compensate for that. There’s a red one available. “200 days warranty.” Sounds better than 6 months?
The Peak 415 HP LED By Smarterlights $279.00
Smarterlights is my brand. This is my original acne light – at first called the enLux 415. This comes with full support, 90 day risk free trial and a lifetime warranty. The same light also comes in red to complete the set.
The Tri Peak Blue/Red HP LED by Smarterlights $329
Also sold by my company. This light looks pink because it combines red and blue light together. It has blue light at 415 nm to be most effective on surface acne. It includes blue light at 653 nm to penetrate deeper into acne bumps like cystic acne. And it includes red to help get rid of acne fast. (If you were interested in treating scars, I recommend the Peak 415 with red separately.)