Light Therapy & Wound Healing

Over the last 20 years, Light Therapy researchers have confirmed that using phototherapy for wound healing can help treat extremely painful and bothersome blisters on the body from various health conditions.

Skin wounds like ulcers can sometimes be the result of diabetes, or from health conditions such as immune thrombocytopenia, a rare type of blood disorder.

Further health complications often arise when ulcers and wounds are left untreated. Some ulcers are resilient to conventional medicine and cannot always be prevented.

Several studies show promise using Light Therapy to promote healing in ulcers and skin wounds, offering safe and side-effect free treatment to reduce pain and prevent health complications.

What Are Ulcers & How Do We Treat Them?

Ulcers are open wounds that develop on the skin as a result of injury, pressure, poor blood circulation, or from an underlying disease such as diabetes9,1,7. These can be thought of as blisters, and are most common on the skin of the lower limbs and can additionally cause damage to tendons, ligaments, and muscles if left untreated9.

Certain diseases lead to ulcers; for example, untreated diabetes, which causes unhealthy, high blood sugar, can damage nerves and blood vessels10. This damage may result in the emergence of wounds that damage nerves called neuropathic ulcers10. These ulcers are extremely slow to heal and might cause patients to feel a partial or total sensation loss of their limbs, an extreme symptom that must be dealt with quickly to avoid permanent loss of feeling9,10.

Medical researchers say there is plenty of room for improvement for wound healing outcomes2,9. Typically, wound patients receive treatment to clean and dress their wounds, but wounds may heal slowly or become infected2. Extreme treatments involve removing some of the dead tissue around the wound, but this method is extremely painful and prone to additional infection2. Phototherapy for wound healing promotes faster wound healing with less pain than previous treatments1,8.

The lower limbs are some of the most common places where ulcers appear
The lower limbs are some of the most common places where ulcers appear

Evidence of Using Light Therapy Treatment to Heal Ulcers

Phototherapy for wound healing has been considered by researchers and medical practitioners as a secondary therapy to dressing and bandaging pressure ulcers, allowing faster and better healing1,8. A 2008 study found that 20 patients who received Light Therapy along with standard care measured a significant improvement in pressure ulcer healing compared to those who only received standard care1.

In 2019, researchers worked with 52 patients who had diabetic foot ulcers due to Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus7. The patients for this research had been struggling for over a month with uninfected ulcers (about the size of a large egg)7. According to the research, Light Therapy shrunk ulcers to one-third of their original size, showing that Light Therapy can have a rapid effect on healing skin wounds7.

A study that encompassed 45 patients with diabetic foot ulcers found that Light Therapy helped to improve blood flow to the foot3,6 and strengthen the function of the nervous system6. Light Therapy can be used to treat both the symptoms of wounds and restore the body’s normal functions to promote health.

Light Therapy provides much needed relief and treatment for ulcers, healing wounds faster and preventing future health complications.[1] 

Evidence that Light Therapy Can Help Heal Internal Wounds

Wounds can form on or in the body from rare conditions such as immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), a blood disease marked by a deficiency of platelets, the blood cells that are essential in blood clotting and bleeding prevention5. Affected individuals can develop red or purple spots on the skin which are caused by bleeding just under the skin’s surface or in severe cases, the intestines5.

The frequency and severity of bleeding in ITP patients are connected with the count of blood platelet cells in the body — fewer platelet cells usually means more bleeding5. Traditionally, this health condition is managed by platelet transfusions but research on Light Therapy shows promise for more robust treatment11,12.

One study has found out that Light Therapy treatment can alleviate ITP in mice11. Mice received noninvasive whole body Light Therapy illumination for 30 mins every day for a few days in a row11. Light Therapy significantly boosted the platelet counts and helped stop bleeding in affected mice11.

Another study replicated these results — mice with a severe form of thrombocytopenia were treated with Light Therapy12. Light Therapy illumination on the animals’ bodies helped increase their platelet count and preserved overall cell function12.

Animal studies suggest that Light Therapy works to heal internal wounds at the cellular level, giving researchers and medical providers a tool to help treat humans who suffer from rare blood diseases12,11.[1] 

Light Therapy Alongside a Healthier Lifestyle

Light Therapy offers a technological solution to help heal wounds faster with less pain. External wounds like ulcers from diabetes or poor circulation can heal faster when Light Therapy is combined with standard care. Light Therapy has potential to help treat rare blood diseases like immune thrombocytopenia and heal internal wounds. Light Therapy can treat wounds alongside standard care, providing risk-free relief and better care for health issues associated with wounds.

For any questions which you may have related to phototherapy for wound healing, feel free to reach out to our team Facebook or Twitter. Follow our Light Lounge™ blog where we bring you weekly updates on the latest scientific research from around the world related to Light Therapy, the benefits it may hold for your health and well-being, and the potentials it holds to change the future of medicine.

  1. Djurovic, A., Maric, D., Brdareski, Z., Jevtic, M., & Djurdjevic, S. (2008). The effects of polarized light therapy in pressure ulcer healing. Vojnosanitetski Pregled, 65(12), 906–912. doi: 10.2298/vsp0812906d
  2. Everett, E., Mathioudakis, N. (2018). Update on management of diabetic foot ulcers. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1411(1): 153-165. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13569
  3. Frangez, I., Cankar, K., Ban Frangez, H., Smrke, D.M. (2017). The effect of LED on blood microcirculation during chronic wound healing in diabetic and non-diabetic patients-a prospective, double-blind randomized study. Lasers Med Sci, 32(4): 887-894. doi: 10.1007/s10103-017-2189-7.
  4. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, September 24). Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Harvard Health. Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/type-2-diabetes-mellitus-a-to-z
  5. Immune thrombocytopenia - Genetics Home Reference - NIH. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/immune-thrombocytopenia
  6. Salvi, M., Rimini, D., Molinari, F., Bestente, G., & Bruno, A. (2017). Effect of low-level light therapy on diabetic foot ulcers: a near-infrared spectroscopy study. Journal of Biomedical Optics, 22(3), 038001. doi: 10.1117/1.jbo.22.3.038001
  7. Sangma, M. B., Selvaraju, S., Marak, F., & Dasiah, S. D. (2019). Efficacy of low level infrared light therapy on wound healing in patients with chronic diabetic foot ulcers: a randomised control trial. International Surgery Journal, 6(5), 1650. doi: 10.18203/2349-2902.isj20191885
  8. Schubert, V. (2001). Effects of phototherapy on pressure ulcer healing in elderly patients after a falling trauma. A prospective, randomized, controlled study. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed, 17(1):32-8. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0781.2001.017001032.x
  9. Skin ulcer: Causes, types, symptoms, and treatments. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324466
  10. Watson, S. (n.d.). Diabetes: Symptoms, causes, treatment, prevention, and more. Healthline. Retrieved May 12, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes
  11. Yang, J., Zhang, Q., Li, P., Dong, T., & Wu, M. X. (2016). Low-level light treatment ameliorates immune thrombocytopenia. Scientific Reports, 6(1). doi: 10.1038/srep38238
  12. Zhang, Q., Dong, T., Li, P. Wu, M.X. (2016). Noninvasive low-level laser therapy for thrombocytopenia. Sci Transl Med, 8(349):349ra101. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaf4964.

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