Exposure to Visible Light Emitted from Smartphones and Tablets Increases the Proliferation of Staphylococcus aureus: Can this be Linked to Acne?

J Biomed Phys Eng. 2017 Jun 1;7(2):163-168. eCollection 2017 Jun.


Background: Due to rapid advances in modern technologies such as telecommunication technology, the world has witnessed an exponential growth in the use of digital handheld devices (e.g. smartphones and tablets). This drastic growth has resulted in increased global concerns about the safety of these devices. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other digital screens emit high levels of short-wavelength visible light (i.e. blue color region in the visible light spectrum).

Material and methods: At a dark environment, Staphylococcus aureus bacteria were exposed to the light emitted from common tablets/smartphones. The control samples were exposed to the same intensity of light generated by a conventional incandescent light bulb. The growth rate of bacteria was examined by measuring the optical density (OD) at 625 nm by using a spectrophotometer before the light exposure and after 30 to 330 minutes of light exposure.

Results: The growth rates of bacteria in both smartphone and tablet groups were higher than that of the control group and the maximum smartphone/control and tablet/control growth ratios were observed in samples exposed to digital screens' light for 300 min (ratios of 3.71 and 3.95, respectively).

Conclusion: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that investigates the effect of exposure to light emitted from digital screens on the proliferation of Staphylococcus aureus and its association with acne pathogenesis. Our findings show that exposure to short-wavelength visible light emitted from smartphones and tablets can increase the proliferation of Staphylococcus aureus.

Keywords: Acne; Blue Light; Staphylococcus aureus; Tablets; Smartphones.