Cutaneous Interaction With Visible Light: What Do We Know

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2020 Apr 11;S0190-9622(20)30551-X. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2020.03.115. Online ahead of print.


Visible light has been used therapeutically in dermatology for years for a variety of cosmetic and medical indications, including skin rejuvenation and the treatment of inflammatory and neoplastic conditions, among others. Until recently, visible light was thought to be relatively inert compared to its spectral neighbors, ultraviolet and infrared radiation. However, recent literature has described the ability of visible light to cause erythema in light skin and pigmentary changes in individuals with darker skin types. Concern surrounding its potentially damaging cutaneous effects has been raised in both the medical community as well as in social media outlets. In this article, we provide an evidenced-based review describing what is currently known about visible light, focusing on its role in dermatologic diseases including disorders of hyperpigmentation such as melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Keywords: antioxidants; blue light; iron oxide; melasma; pigmentation; post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation; reactive oxygen species; sunscreen; ultraviolet light; visible light.

Publication types

  • Review