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.
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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)
You might be getting some UV exposure long after the sun goes down — some new fluorescent light bulbs give off UV light.
Fluorescent light bulbs are everywhere now that people are trying to be more green. Most popular are the ice-cream-twist compact fluorescent bulbs called CFBs. CFBs create light by energizing a gas and exciting a phosphorous coating on their glass. The coating prevents most of the ultraviolet light from reaching you, but not entirely; some UV radiation leaks out of any fluorescent bulb. In some CFBs, the emission of UV light is so high that it exceeds the safety limits of the International Commission of Non-Iodizing Radiation.
So, should you be applying sunscreen before turning on your CFB reading light at night? No. Nor should you switch your CFBs back to energy wasting incandescent bulbs. The amount of UV exposure that you get from the light bulb is small compared to the UV exposure you get from just being outside; for most people it is not significant.
However, some people are exquisitely sensitive to ultraviolet light. Auto immune diseases such as lupus, inflammatory disease such as rosacea, and certain drugs such as HCTZ can be triggered by even small amounts of UV light from CFBs.
If you are particularly sensitive to UV, then select CFBs that have a double envelope instead of single, as it will block most of the UV light. And always stay at least one foot away when using fluorescent bulbs of any sort.
Also, remember to sit back from your TV (which my mother taught me to do when I was a kid). Of course, now with HDTVs, you get the best picture when you’re sitting a distance of 3 times the diameter of your TV. If you just bought a 60 inch HDTV, you might need to be in your neighbor’s living room to watch it. This, fortunately, should be safely away from any radiation.
Photo: Steven Fernandez (flickr)