• acne vulgaris;
  • intense pulsed light;
  • light-emitting diode;
  • photodynamic therapy


Background and Aims

Acne vulgaris is common in Asian populations. We compared three methods of phototherapy for the treatment of moderate to severe facial acne vulgaris in Chinese patients.


Patients were randomly assigned to receive photodynamic therapy (PDT), intense pulsed light (IPL) or blue–red light-emitting diode (LED) phototherapy to the right side of the face until the inflammatory lesion count reduced by ≥ 90%. Patients were examined at 1 and 3 months after the final treatment.


We enrolled 150 patients (92 males; mean age, 28 years). At 1 month, ≥90% clearance or moderate improvement occurred in 46/50 (92%), 29/50 (58%) and 22/50 (44%) patients in the PDT, IPL and LED groups, respectively (mean number of sessions required, PDT: 3 ± 1.52; IPL: 6 ± 2.15; LED: 9 ± 3.34). Forty-six (92%) patients experienced mild to moderate pain, erythema and edema after PDT, which resolved within 5–7 days. Slight erythema and stinging were reported immediately after IPL and LED, resolving within 2 h. After 3 months, minimal papules and pustules were observed in 4 patients in the PDT group, 7 in the IPL group and 12 in the LED group, but no nodular pustules recurred.


Phototherapy is efficacious for moderate to severe facial acne vulgaris.