Ulcers can be extremely painful and disruptive to daily life. While there are medications to treat ulcers, some people seek alternative therapies like red light therapy. But does shining red light on your skin really help heal ulcers? Let’s take an evidence-based look at the facts.
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Understanding Ulcers and Their Causes
An ulcer is an open sore that develops on the skin or mucous membrane inside the body. Ulcers form when there is a break in the surface that allows acid and digestive juices to damage the tissues underneath. They typically occur in the gastrointestinal tract, but can also develop on the skin.
The most common types of ulcers are:
- Stomach ulcers (peptic ulcers): Ulcers that form in the stomach or upper part of the small intestine. They are usually caused by the bacteria H. pylori or frequent/prolonged use of NSAIDs.
- Mouth ulcers: Sores that form on the mucous membranes of the mouth. Often triggered by irritation, injury, stress, or deficiencies.
- Leg/foot ulcers: Open sores that develop on the lower legs, ankles, and feet. Common causes include poor circulation, injury, and diabetes.
- Genital ulcers: Sores found on the genitals or anus. Caused by sexually transmitted infections, inflammatory conditions, or autoimmune disorders.
- Corneal ulcers: Ulcers that form on the cornea of the eye, often due to infection.
Ulcers range in severity from mild to extremely painful. Small ulcers may heal on their own, but larger or persistent ones require medical treatment. If not properly treated, some ulcers can lead to serious complications like infections, scarring, and cancer.
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What Types of Ulcers Can Red Light Therapy Treat?
Red light therapy involves exposing the skin to low-level red and near-infrared light. It has been studied as a treatment for various kinds of ulcers, including:
- Diabetic foot ulcers – Open sores that develop on the feet due to nerve damage and poor circulation in diabetic patients.
- Mouth ulcers – Small sores in the mouth that can be caused by many factors.
- Pressure ulcers (bedsores) – Ulcers caused by constant pressure on the skin, often in people who are immobile or confined to a bed.
Red light therapy may also have potential for healing stomach ulcers, surgical/traumatic wounds, and ulcers related to autoimmune disorders, but more research is still needed on these applications. Overall, the ulcers that seem most responsive to red light therapy are those related to circulatory problems and diabetes.
How Red Light Therapy Improves Ulcer Healing?
To understand how red light can help ulcers, it helps to know a little about the characteristics of ulcerated tissue. Ulcers form when there is an imbalance between aggressive factors that damage the tissue (like bacteria, acid, enzymes) and protective factors that help repair and restore the tissue (like growth factors, blood flow). This imbalance leads to inflammation, insufficient blood supply, and delayed wound healing. Red light therapy helps treat these root issues through several mechanisms:
The photons of red light get absorbed by the cells and stimulate the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines. This reduces inflammatory swelling, allowing oxygen and nutrients to reach the damaged tissue.
Increases Blood Flow:
The light boosts the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and dilates existing vessels. This brings oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to the ulcer site to facilitate healing.
Stimulates Cell Growth:
Red light energizes the mitochondria in cells, leading to increased ATP production and cellular proliferation. This provides the energy for tissue regeneration and ulcer closure.
By modulating immune activity, red light therapy makes immune cells more efficient at clearing bacteria like H. pylori that can cause ulcers.
The light reduces nerve sensitivity and prostaglandin production. This alleviates ulcer pain signals transmitted to the brain.
Through these synergistic effects at a cellular level, red light therapy delivers healing light energy to ulcerated tissue. This activates regeneration and restores the normal balance lost during ulcer formation.
Is Red Light Therapy Really Effective in Treating Ulcers?
While using light to heal ulcers is still an emerging therapy, initial research studies show promising results:
– In a meta-analysis on red light therapy for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers, the results showed that red light therapy has become a potential non-invasive treatment for diabetic foot ulcers (DFU) because red light therapy can effectively reduce ulcer area, shorten ulcer closure time, and Relieve ulcer pain.
– In a study of bedsores in older patients, red light therapy reduced bedsore severity and accelerated healing compared with a control group.
While more research is still needed, these studies demonstrate red light can positively impact ulcer healing time across multiple contexts. The effects also tend to be greater when red light therapy is used in conjunction with good wound care and standard treatments.
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Red Light Versus Other Ulcer Treatments
Standard ulcer treatments include antibiotics, prescription creams, surgery, compression, wound dressings, OTC medications, and pain relievers. But each has downsides:
- Antibiotics – Kill helpful bacteria and allow fungal overgrowth while encouraging antibiotic resistance. Red light clears harmful microbes without causing imbalance.
- Steroids – Provide temporary symptom relief but impair long-term healing. Red light reduces inflammation without side effects.
- Surgery – Expensive, invasive, and may not fully correct underlying dysfunction. Red light non-invasively treats root causes like poor circulation.
- Compression – Uncomfortable and must be worn consistently to work. Red light permanently enhances circulation.
- Medications – Offer symptom relief but don’t accelerate healing. Red light resolves ulcers at the foundational level.
- Painkillers – Have addictive properties and side effects. Red light relieves pain by reducing inflammation.
Of course all these treatments still have value in some cases. However, red light therapy is unique in its ability to address every aspect of ulcer pathology without side effects or downtime. It can be used alone or safely paired with other therapies for enhanced results.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Red light therapy is well-tolerated with little risk of side effects when performed correctly. The light levels used are not strong enough to generate heat or skin damage like a laser can. Current evidence suggests red light therapy is a very low risk treatment option. Always consult your doctor before undergoing red light therapy if you are concerned about any pre-existing conditions or interacting medications. But rest assured red light exposure under medical supervision is well-tolerated by most people.
How to Use Red Light Therapy to Treat Ulcers?
If you want to explore using red light therapy at home for your ulcer, here is a step-by-step guide:
- Obtain a red light device: You’ll need a device that emits light in the 600-950 nm wavelength range.
- Position the light over the ulcer: For stomach or foot ulcers, the light can be applied by laying down and placing the panel on the skin above the ulcer. For mouth ulcers, intraoral devices are placed inside the mouth near the sore.
- Treat daily: Most protocols use red light therapy once per day. Consistency is important to see ulcer improvements.
- Protect eyes: Wear protective UV blocking glasses during treatment to avoid eye irritation.
- Monitor for improvements: Keep track of ulcer pain, size, and healing progress. Positive changes may occur in as little as 2 weeks.
- Adjust dose as needed: Increase duration or frequency if you don’t see results after 1 month of consistent treatment.
If you’re fed up with ulcer pain constantly interfering with your life, it’s time try red light therapy with RedDot LED device. Harness the healing properties of light to stimulate circulation, cell regeneration, and growth factors to help your body naturally resolve ulcerated areas. Feel nourishing warmth and soothing relief wash over areas of discomfort as the light infuses your cells with energy to heal faster. Enjoy permanent relief from nuisance ulcers and reclaim your active lifestyle. The healing transformation begins today!
Shengbing Li, Cong Wang, Bo Wang, et al. Efficacy of low-level light therapy for treatment of diabetic foot ulcer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Review Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2018 Sep;143:215 -224.
Hersheal Aggarwal, Mohit Pal Singh, Prashant Nahar, et al.Efficacy of low-level laser therapy in treatment of recurrent aphthous ulcers – a sham controlled, split follow mouth up study. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014 Feb;8(2): 218-21.
Hisham Abdelmonem Soliman, Diana Mostafaa. Clinical Evaluation of 660 nm Diode Laser Therapy on the Pain, Size and Functional Disorders of Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019 May 14;7(9):1516-1522.
V Schubert. Effects of phototherapy on pressure ulcer healing in elderly patients after a falling trauma. A prospective, randomized, controlled study. Clinical Trial Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2001 Feb;17(1):32-8.
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