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Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)

We are committed to treating and preventing skin conditions and one specifically is Actinic Keratoses (AKs). This is a precancerous condition that develops as a result of years of sun exposure and can progress to invasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). It is estimated that up to 58 million people in the US have actinic keratoses. Actinic keratoses appear as rough textured, dry scaly patches on the skin that won’t go away. They occur most often on sun-exposed areas such as the face, scalp and ears. They can range in color from skin-toned to reddish-brown. They can be as small as a pinhead or larger than a quarter. As many as 10% of actinic keratoses may develop into squamous cell carcinoma within two years. Squamous cell carcinoma represents the second most common form of skin cancer and because there is no way to know ahead of time which actinic keratoses will develop into squamous cell carcinoma, we strongly encourage you to schedule regular skin exams with a one of our Plastic Surgeons.

The BLU-U Blue Light Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) Illuminator is used to treat dermatological conditions, such as acne and actinic keratoses. In combination with the Levulan® Kerastick® (aminolevulinic acid HCl) for Topical Solution, 20%, (Levulan PDT) the BLU-U is indicated for the treatment of minimally to moderately thick actinic keratoses of the face or scalp.

One hour prior to your BLU-U Blue Light treatment, you will come to the office and the Levulan Kerastick will be applied to your face. You will need to wait, indoors (out of sunlight), for one hour (sometimes up to one hour and 30 minutes) for your blue light session to begin. You will stand or sit under the lights for 16 minutes and 40 seconds. Once the lights have turned off, your face will be cleaned with sunscreen applied and you can be on your way. The solution makes your face sensitive to light, therefore you should stay indoors and out of the sunlight for at least the next 48 hours.

The BLU-U Blue Light is of low intensity and will not heat the skin. However, during the light treatment, you may experience sensations of burning, tingling, stinging, or prickling of the treated AK’s. The sensation of stinging and/or burning appeared to reach a plateau at six minutes into the BLU-U light treatment. These feelings of discomfort should improve at the end of the BLU-U treatment and should subside as early as one minute after the BLU-U treatment but may take up to 24 hours after the BLU-U is turned off. Following treatment, the AKs and surrounding skin may redden, and swelling and scaling may also occur. However, these effects are temporary and should completely resolve by 4 weeks after treatment.

  • Be sure to tell Dr. Hartshorn, Dr. Pitcher or Dr. Swelstad about any oral medication you are taking or any topical prescriptions (or non-prescriptions) you are using on your face or scalp.
  • Bring adequate sun-protective items with you to your appointment – such as a wide brimmed hat or umbrella.
  • Avoid exposure of your photosensitive treatment sites to sunlight or bright light for at least 48 hours after the application of the Levulan Kerastick topical solution.
  • Sunscreens will not protect against photosensiitivity reactions caused by visible light. Moisturizers may be applied as needed.