Photodynamic therapy with intralesional 5-aminolevulinic acid and intense pulsed light versus intense pulsed light alone in the treatment of acne vulgaris: a comparative study

Dermatol Ther. Jan-Feb 2012;25(1):86-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1529-8019.2012.01427.x.


Despite the availability of many treatment modalities for acne vulgaris (AV), few of which provide excellent results. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) was shown to be an effective treatment especially when used with topical 5-aminolevulenic acid (ALA). We compared the efficacy and safety of PDT using intralesional ALA (IL-ALA) with intense pulsed light (IPL) and IPL alone in the treatment of AV. This study was carried on 30 patients with nodulocystic and inflammatory AV on the face and back. The right side of the body was treated with IL-ALA plus IPL, while the left side was treated with IPL alone. All patients experienced a reduction in number of acne lesions on both sides of the body, but the reduction was significantly more in PDT side than IPL only side. Recurrence of the lesions was significantly more likely in the IPL only side. There was no statistically significant difference between the face and back lesions in drug side effects and recurrence of the lesions. We concluded that photodynamic therapy in this cohort is effective in the treatment of AV when combined with IL-ALA. It gives superior results compared with IPL alone with minimal and tolerable side effects and less recurrence rates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy*
  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Aminolevulinic Acid / adverse effects
  • Back
  • Face
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photochemotherapy / adverse effects
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / adverse effects
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • Aminolevulinic Acid