iPhone App Claims to Treat Acne. Does it?

I love my iPhone. (No, that’s not me in the photo.)

My iPhone is teeming with apps that help me get through my day (like Doodle Jump for instance). An emerging iPhone trend is the development of apps that diagnose and treat diseases. For example, there is the stethoscope app to help diagnose heart murmurs. In dermatology, there is an app designed to treat acne.

We know that specific wavelengths of light can have medicinal effects such as killing bacteria (red light) and reducing inflammation (blue light). This app produces light at those wavelengths to treat acne. The claim is that by holding the iPhone to your face, the light produced from the app will treat your acne.

Although it scores a 10 on 10 in the coolness factor, it scores a 0 on 10 for proof of efficacy. The studies that looked at treating acne with light used much more intense light than an iPhone uses. The studies with more powerful light exposed faces for 60 minutes every week, which is about 8 minutes on each side every day. Even then, light treatments for acne have not been shown to be consistently better than standard acne treatments such as antibiotics and tretinoin.

So does the acne app work? Well, there are no studies to tell us. Given that the light intensity is low and that most people would not do the treatment — try holding your phone for 2-5 minutes on each side of your face every day for months — I doubt it works.

Acne is common and naturally gets better and worse at times no matter what you do. It is unfortunate that products like this are sold that do not have any proof that they work. There will be people who buy this app and believe that it helped them, (“My acne was clear in just THREE DAYS!”) but the two bucks is better spent on Doodle Jump.

See also:

Can an iPhone App Clear Up Your Acne?

In Light and Heat, Gadgets Claim to Fight Acne

Better Skin to the Touch?

Can You Treat Acne With an iPhone App?

A study to determine the effect of combination blue (415 nm) and near-infrared (830 nm) light-emitting diode (LED) therapy for moderate acne vulgaris.

Photo: Aye Shamus (flickr)

9 thoughts on “iPhone App Claims to Treat Acne. Does it?”

  1. I would hope that people aren’t actually touching the phone right to their face every day. That would put additional oils and bacteria on the skin that wouldn’t otherwise be there. You want to touch your face as little as possible, not hold greasy phones on it every day.

  2. It’s great that you mentioned that acne is prone to getting better anyway, but that people believe it’s getting better because of what they’re using at the time. People pay way too little attention to alternative explanations when they believe one is working.

  3. Observation is the basis for our beliefs and is hard to disprove. Some people believe magicians really do saw people in half. No study is going to change their minds — they saw it with their own eyes.

  4. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard! I’m certainly not going to buy an iPhone to see if it will make my skin slightly clearer.

  5. Wow! Can it get any crazier! On the serious side- light of certain wavelengths can cure certain ailments, what are those? Is nanotech related to using light too?

  6. Great this is nuts I want an iPhone to help clear up my skin but what about my brain? ; )

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