Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in management of recurrent herpes labialis: a systematic review

Lasers Med Sci. 2018 Sep;33(7):1423-1430. doi: 10.1007/s10103-018-2542-5. Epub 2018 May 25.


Recurrent herpes labialis (RHL) is a highly prevalent viral infection that affects the oro-facial region. Current treatment options have limited efficacy in reducing healing time and recurrence rate of the disease. Recently, low-level laser therapy has been proposed as a potential treatment alternative for the management of RHL with no side effects. This systematic review aims to evaluate the effectiveness of laser therapy in the management and prevention of RHL. A comprehensive search of Medline/PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science was carried out to identify published clinical trials comparing laser intervention to active and/or non-active controls for the treatment of RHL. Due to marked heterogeneity of available data, studies were assessed qualitatively, and no statistical analysis was performed. Of the retrieved 227 articles, six clinical trials met the eligibility criteria. The wavelengths, the power output, and energy density ranged between 632.5-870 nm, 5-80 W, and 2.04-48 J/cm2, respectively. All included studies found laser to be effective in the management and prevention of RHL, without any side effects. The findings of this review suggest that laser is potentially a safe and effective treatment alternative for the management of RHL. However, due to high variability in study designs and inconsistency in laser parameters among the included studies, more well-designed randomized clinical trials with standardized laser parameters are highly warranted.

Keywords: Efficacy; Laser therapy; Recurrent herpes labialis; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Edema / pathology
  • Herpes Labialis / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Low-Level Light Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Recurrence
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing / radiation effects
  • Young Adult