Red light therapy (RLT) offers effective relief from various conditions.
However, when people are considering light therapy as a treatment method, a question we often hear is, “how often should I use red light therapy at home?”
The typical answer is three to five times per week for 10 to 20 minutes. Although this is a great place to start, keep this in mind:
There’s no one-size-fits-all application of red light therapy.
But, before we get into that, here’s some general information about how red light therapy works.
Note: PlatinumLED panels help you get better results in less time by using clinical-grade parts and construction. Check out the PlatinumLED shop to learn more.
Red Light Therapy Basics
Red light therapy is also called photobiomodulation (PMB), low-level laser therapy (LLLT), or low-power laser therapy (LPLT).
Their treatments are often targeted at improving skin appearance. Some red light therapy benefits include:
- Reducing acne
- Improving sun-damaged skins
- Reducing scars and wrinkles.
- Minimizing the appearance of stretch marks.
- And dealing with most skin complications, you can think of.
The therapy also extends to other health conditions aside from the skin, such as preventing cold sores from herpes, although RLT effectiveness for this is still being tested.
How does this treatment work?
- A red light therapy device exposes the skin to specific wavelengths of light.
- These wavelengths, which vary in length based on color, are measured in nanometers (nm).
- Different wavelengths can penetrate the skin, stimulating natural biological processes.
Simply, red light therapy supercharges your cells. Red light therapy stimulates the mitochondria (our cells' energy source). With more energy, our cells can function better.
When it comes to which wavelengths provide the most health benefits, research shows that the red and NIR wavelengths (known as the therapeutic window) are the wavelengths to value the most.
Everyone Has Unique Treatment Needs
Now that you know the science behind red light therapy, let’s talk about the dosage.
It’s a scientific fact that no two people are the same. Just as you have unique DNA, fingerprints, ears, and teeth, your health needs and treatment responses differ from others.
With that in mind, your optimal red light dosage depends on three factors:
- The condition(s) you want to treat.
- Your overall health.
- And your skin’s light sensitivity.
Let’s break each down.
Alter Treatments Based on the Condition(s) Being Treated
Some effects, like muscle recovery, reduced inflammation, or improved skin tone, can happen quickly after red light therapy. Other effects take more time.
These varying effectiveness levels depend on the overall cellular health and other biological processes while the red light stimulates cells.
For example, a realistic expectation for results for chronic conditions is from one to four months.
Once you’ve achieved your desired results, frequent sessions will help:
- Maintain improvements in skin tone,
- Calm chronic skin conditions
- Ease your aches.
- Improve muscle health
- Regrow hair
Your Overall Health
Waiting weeks for results from red light therapy can be frustrating. This is especially true if you’re in poor health and suffer from several chronic conditions.
However, patience is key. Remember, red light heals from within. That means, the cellular level; by promoting the optimal functioning of cells.
Looking for a specific result might seem daunting when the treatment is working on your overall health. After consistent use, you will likely see a positive ripple effect from LED light therapy.
Your Skin’s Light Sensitivity
Red light therapy has proven to be safe and side-effect-free in multiple studies.
Still, your skin color, tone, and thickness can affect how it absorbs red light photons. That means, you may need to adjust your treatment times.
It also means that no two people can expect the same results when using red light for sleep or any other reason.
Because individual results will vary, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider, especially if you take photosensitizing medications or have skin cancer before trying red light therapy.
These three factors influence your dosage. Now, here’s a trick you can use to find the right amount of red light your body needs to absorb toward efficiency.
The “Goldilocks Approach” to Optimal Dosage
Like Goldilocks, you should experiment until you find the optimal dosage best suited to you.
We can recommend duration/intensity. However, if they prove to be not enough or too much, keep experimenting until you find the dosage that is just right.
Light intensity, known as irradiance, is greatest at 6” away (half a foot). This is perfect for joint or muscle health.
For skin conditions, 12” to 18” away is ideal.
The irradiance chart for PlatinumLED BIO and BIOMAX models illustrate how distance affects irradiance and the treatment area during LED light therapy. However, keep in mind, results vary largely based on consistency. So, you want to be sure to follow a regular schedule once you begin red light sessions.
Side note: Remember to apply red light to bare skin rather than through clothing.
Now, let’s see how you can effectively implement the goldilocks approach depending on health conditions.
How Long is a Red Light Therapy Session? - Small Sampling of Conditions
Here are some common conditions that you can treat with red light therapy and their typical recommended treatments.
Research has overwhelmingly shown that red light therapy benefits skin conditions in countless ways. You name it, from improving skin rejuvenation to softening the appearance of wrinkles, making it good anti-aging therapy.
In one of many studies, participants used red light twice a week. The outcome? Their skin issues showed significant improvements after 30 sessions.
That’s a good starting point for you!
- Start by positioning the LED panel at about 12” to 18” away.
Once you’ve achieved the desired results, frequent sessions will help maintain your skin improvements, providing great anti-aging effects.
Red light therapy effectively stimulates, heals, and regenerates damaged muscle tissue.
Many athletes improve their sports performance by using red light therapy before and after conditioning exercises.
A 2017 review by researchers from the United States and Brazil revealed that combining red and near infrared light treated every muscle layer in small and large muscle groups.
Additionally, post exercise light therapy for maintenance may promote optimal physical performance and help prevent injury.
- Before exercise (for injury prevention): three to five minutes per day at a distance of 6” to 18.”
- After exercise (for accelerated recovery): 10 to 20 minutes per day at 6” to 18”
- For muscle injury: 20 minutes per day at 6” to 12” until the injury heals.
Although it may sound too good to be true, red light therapy has been proven to regrow hair. This effect is due to its positive impact on the hair follicles.
A 2017 research backs this up. The study involved 90 patients aged 18 to 70 who suffered from androgenic alopecia (baldness). Those how received red and near infrared light treatment showed “statistically significant improvement” in hair growth.
- To stimulate hair regrowth, use red light for 10 to 20 minutes three to five times per week at 6” to 12”
Once hair starts to grow, a maintenance program will continue stimulating normal hair growth.
Arthritis Joint Pain
The Centers for Disease and Control, CDC reports that 58.5 million Americans have arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most common types. Red light can relieve pain and increase mobility for many arthritis patients.
One study of 50 elderly patients with degenerative osteoarthritis showed great results using red and NIR light for 15 minutes twice daily.
- Place the LED panel 6” from the affected joint for maximum irradiation.
Since light therapy treatment works at a cellular level, this may slow the progression of osteoarthritis and other degenerative joint disorders while continuing to relieve pain.
Chronic Skin Disorders
People with chronic skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea, endure a great deal of suffering, from severe itching to burning pain.
Research has shown that red light therapy can effectively treat these skin issues.
For example, one study on patients with the chronic skin condition, psoriasis, who had no success with conventional therapy methods treated them with a combination of red and near infrared light (630 nm and 830 nm) in two 20-minute sessions every other day for four or five weeks.
The results? Their skin conditions improved!
Consistent exposure to red light therapy can reduce symptoms of chronic skin conditions and promote skin health.
- Start with 10- to 20-minute sessions with the LED device at 6” to 12”.
Continue this program three to five times per week for one to four months, followed by a maintenance program.
Skin Wounds and Scars
Since red light therapy energizes cells and stimulates collagen production, it can effectively treat visible signs of skin wounds. For instance, it is good at reducing stretch marks and minimizes the skin’s appearance of scars.
A major research review confirmed this in 2014. Researchers concluded that red light therapy effectively treats skin wounds, minimizing scarring and promoting wound healing.
- 10- to 20-minute red light sessions three to five times per week at 6” to 12” for one to four months.
A good treatment program for skin wounds, stretch marks, and mild scars will stimulate collagen production to soften and minimize visible signs of scars. However, older and/or deeper scars and skin conditions may require longer treatment for wound healing.
Low Back Pain
Eighty percent of adults will suffer low back pain at some point. It’s a leading cause of job-related disability. Depending on the severity, back pain can impair your quality of life.
The good news is: red light therapy can effectively treat low back pain. This includes acute (short-term, often injury-related) and chronic (longer-term).
One study found that patients with low back pain treated with infrared therapy (800 nm to 1200 nm) had a 50 percent reduction in pain over six weeks.
- For low back pain, position the panel 8” to 12” from your back for 10- to 20-minute sessions daily (remain seated if it’s more comfortable for you).
Frequent sessions can significantly relieve chronic low back pain.
Can I get too much?
In short, no.
In fact, Michael Hamblin, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and red light therapy expert, said, “consistent use of RLT for 24 hours a day and wouldn’t damage the skin. It’s almost impossible to cause any harm.”
However, while red light is side-effect-free, temporary tightness or redness is possible if you have sensitive skin. But you can alleviate this sensitivity by reducing the treatment time or moving farther back from the device.
You should test the optimal time for your body and adjust as you go along. But overall, red light therapy is generally safe and often leads to patient satisfaction.
Ready to get started?
Red Light Therapy: Convenient At-Home Treatment
A high-quality LED device with both red and NIR wavelengths lets you administer red light therapy in the comfort and convenience of your home.
If you are experiencing the frustration of accelerated aging, suffering from chronic pain or have a condition that has been stubbornly resistant to conventional treatment you should consider light therapy treatments.
How much and how often totally depends on you and your unique needs.