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Low-Level Light Therapy Treats Digital Ulcers

Photonics Handbook
A lamp containing 32 bulbs emitting IR, red, or UV light for use in low-level light therapy (LLLT) was tested on finger ulcers caused by an autoimmune condition. Researcher Michael Hughes, from the University of Manchester, said that the promising results indicated that the device could potentially be used for treatment of other ulcers, including diabetic and venous ulcers.

Low level light therapy for ulcers, University of Manchester.
The lamp, built by researchers at the University of Manchester, has 32 bulbs, which emit IR, red, or UV light. Researchers concluded that low-level light therapy for digital ulcers is safe, feasible, and well tolerated. Courtesy of Michael Hughes.

Eight patients, with 14 ulcers between them, were treated with the lamp. Digital ulcers were irradiated with 10 J/cm2 twice weekly in 15-minute sessions for 3 weeks, with follow-up at weeks 4 and 8. The patients received a total of 46 light exposures, with no safety concerns.

Researchers said that after treatment was completed, patients experienced an average of 83 percent improvement in the ulcers, with no side-effects.

Researchers believe that UV light kills the bacteria and reduces the inflammation that prevents healing. Red light is believed to boost blood circulation, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients needed for wound healing. IR light is associated with increasing blood flow and oxygen.

Current light therapy for digital ulcers, using lasers, is administered in the hospital over a five-day period, and patients are required to take medication to lower their blood pressure. The LLLT therapy can be administered at home without medication, said researcher Michael Hughes.

“There are future possibilities as well. We think this device could be easily adapted to monitor ulcers remotely using cameras," he said.  "They could also be programmed to recognize different parts of the body so that the treatment is given accurately."

Over the next several months the team will be refining the LLLT lamp. Hughes said that within a year the team hopes to be trialing it on diabetic ulcers.

The research was published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment (doi: 10.1080/09546634.2018.1484875).

Research & TechnologyeducationEuropeUniversity of Manchesterlight sourcesLow-Level Light TherapyUV light therapyred light therapyIR light therapyphototherapyBiophotonicsmedicalmedicinedigital ulcers

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