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CAMBRIDGE, England (Reuters Life!) - Sufferers of acne, or facial spots, may know all about light therapy but until now they have only been able to receive it either in hospital or a clinic.
Now, a British company is launching a hand-held device that can be used by a teenager at home.
Lumie, based just outside Cambridge, say their LED device will allow acne sufferers to treat themselves in the privacy of their own bedroom. The Lumie Clear device can be either hand-held or mounted on a cradle to allow treatment without interrupting homework.
"With the hand-held option what the user will do is take it off the cradle -- and treat their acne to the affected area for 15 minutes at a time," Lumie Innovations Manager Samira Cherrouk told Reuters.
Acne vulgaris is a widespread skin complaint found in up to 80 per cent of adolescents. It affects the glands found on the face and neck that produce grease and results in spots or pimples, inflammation and can lead to scarring.
Most cases are classed as mild but in more severe cases it can be quite disfiguring -- a sensitive problem amongst a social group already body conscience.
"It can cause anxiety, low mood, often it can cause depression -- things that can really scar adolescents if it is not dealt with," Research Dermatologist at Imperial College London Rakesh Patalay said.
Research has shown that the combination of red and blue light of certain frequencies can have a dramatic effect on acne, attacking bacteria and repairing skin. A study at Hammersmith Hospital in London showed the red and blue light combination improved sufferers skin by more than 75 percent in a matter of weeks.
Conventionally, acne is treated with creams or antibiotics but creams are often regarded as inconvenient and an over-reliance on antibiotics can increase bacterial resistance, lessening the drug's effect.
Patalay says he sees the Lumie Clear being used in conjunction with existing treatments and says an added benefit maybe empowering patients to treat themselves.
"Patients already self-administer creams and self-administer tablets -- what this device enables patients to do is to go out to take control by buying a product that has been shown to work and to be able to use that usually in conjunction with some of the other treatments that they are already being given," he said.
The device will go on sale next month for around $200.
Editing by Paul Casciato