The Healing Power of Red Light Therapy for Herpes

Herpes is a commonly transmitted disease that can have many adverse effects on the body. If you're one of the millions of people who suffer from herpes, you know that the virus can be both painful and embarrassing. But did you know that red light therapy may offer a natural way to help ease your discomfort?  Red light therapy’s very discovery can be attributed to its healing properties as it was first recognized for its ability to speed up tissue repair. It can benefit those who have herpes by managing symptoms and promote healing.

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What are people saying? From a Rouge customer: "So far the device seems to work as advertised. It’s easy to use (I just set it on my counter, plugged it in and sat in front of it for ten minutes at a time) and seems to be helping in healing."


Approximately several billion people across the world experience oral or genital herpes, new estimates show. 

In the US, genital herpes is a widespread condition. According to CDC estimates, there were 572,000 new cases of genital herpes among adults aged 14 to 49 in 2018. 

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is categorized into 2 types:

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)

Oral herpes, such as cold sores or fever blisters is known as HSV-1. Most occurrences of oral herpes are contracted between childhood or early adulthood through non-sexual saliva contact.

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2)

A sexually transmitted virus causing genital herpes. Mild symptoms could go unreported or be confused for itchy bumps or other skin ailments.

Common Symptoms 

Herpes outbreaks can manifest as one or more sores on or near the mouth, genitalia, or rectum. When the blisters burst, painful and bothersome sores are left behind. Additionally, genital herpes can result in adverse and prolonged sores in individuals with compromised immune systems. 

Herpes can recur in people who have had the first infection, particularly if they have HSV-2. Repeat outbreaks, nevertheless, typically last less time and are less virulent than that of the initial outbreak.

Treatment: 

With antiviral medicine, outbreaks may be avoided or reduced in length. Regular immunosuppressive therapy for herpes can lessen the risk of partner transmission. There is no known cure for a herpes virus infection.

How Can Red Light Therapy help?

Red light therapy has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, including skin conditions like acne, psoriasis, wrinkles, and scars.

While practiced and researched in a wide variety of health and wellness areas, red light therapy produces powerful light energy that penetrates into the tissue to support healthy cell formation, renewal and function, notably intended to facilitate healing. When applied to Herpes, the effects of red light therapy are even greater, considering how sensitive this condition is. Herpes can be treated more quickly when utilizing red light treatment, which combines red and near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths. It's important to consult your doctor before getting started with any kind of treatment.

Near-infrared (NIR) vs. Red wavelengths

Near-infrared light is only dimly visible to the human eye, unlike red light. All of our Rouge products  use 660 nm wavelength. Since its wavelength is short, light first contacts the skin's surface before penetrating 1-2 millimeters below it. Near InfraRed light, on the other hand, is almost invisible to the unaided eye and penetrates the skin further, as much as 2 inches. 

When it comes to herpes, studies have shown that red light therapy can help to:

  • Speed up healing time
  • Reduce viral shedding
  • Lessen inflammation
  • Reduce pain

What does the Research Say: 

There is a growing body of evidence to support the use of red light therapy for herpes. In this significant study,  researchers examined women with HSV-2 who underwent light therapy for three weeks. The clinical team assessed the participants' pain levels before, during, and after the course of light treatment. Blood tests were also utilized to examine the HSV-2 infectious load that was detected in the bloodstream. The outcomes demonstrate that red light therapy can significantly improve a person's genital herpes outbreak.

A clinical study called “Low-intensity laser therapy is an effective treatment for recurrent herpes simplex infection. Results from a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study,” selected a group of participants who not only had HSV1 but had severe recurrent infections. The participants were split into two groups, a placebo and a treatment group. The results showed that the participants who did not receive the treatment kept getting outbreaks on average every three weeks (or 21 days), they're outbreak frequency didn't change. In the group that received the treatment, the average was 37 1/2 weeks (or 263 days) before they got another outbreak. The researchers also looked at how light treatment impacted the time it would take for the participants to completely heal from the cold sore outbreak. The group that did not receive treatment took on average four days to heal whereas the treatment groups took on average two days, concluding that the treatment cut the time to heal in half!

Another study, published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment, found that red light therapy was effective in reducing viral shedding in people with genital herpes. This is important because viral shedding is when the virus is most infectious and can be transmitted. 

Red light therapy is a promising treatment for chronic recurring problems like herpes simplex virus because it addresses both the symptoms and the causative factors of the condition. 

In 69 participants, a 2009 study using red wavelengths between 650 and 680 nm demonstrated significant healing of mouth ulcers after just one treatment.

In this review, 232 participants participated in a comprehensive, lengthy trial that used 670nm red light therapy to treat oral ulcers. Five years of participant observation following the duration of red light therapy revealed a noticeably longer interval between flare-ups.

And Lastly, this 2013 study focused on HSV-1  (cold sores). The 87 participants involved were split into two groups, one receiving infrared light therapy (1072 nm) and the other receiving placebo light therapy. In contrast to the control group's average healing time of 177 hours, the light treatment group's was 129 hours.

Limitations of Red Light Therapy for Herpes

There is no doubt that red light therapy can be beneficial for a wide range of conditions, including preventing, treating and shortening the length of herpes breakouts. However, it's important to be aware of the limitations of this treatment. Red light therapy is not a cure for herpes. It can help to lessen the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of outbreaks, but it will not completely eliminate the virus from your system.

Ultimately, the research findings shows promise that red light therapy can lower the severity and viral potency of breakouts while also reducing discomfort and increasing quality of life. 

While more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness, red light therapy shows potential as a safe, non-invasive way to treat this common condition. If you are considering trying red light therapy to address herpes and possibly prevent future outbreaks or lower the frequency and intensity of the outbreaks, shop today and discover the healing powers of red light therapy! 

Sources:

Avci P, Gupta A, Sadasivam M, Vecchio D, Pam Z, Pam N, Hamblin MR. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2013 Mar;32(1):41-52. PMID: 24049929; PMCID: PMC4126803.

Dougal G, Lee SY. Evaluation of the efficacy of low-level light therapy using 1072 nm infrared light for the treatment of herpes simplex labialis. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2013 Oct;38(7):713-8. doi: 10.1111/ced.12069. Epub 2013 Jun 3. PMID: 23731454.

Hamblin MR. Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. AIMS Biophys. 2017;4(3):337-361. doi: 10.3934/biophy.2017.3.337. Epub 2017 May 19. PMID: 28748217; PMCID: PMC5523874.

Marotti J, Aranha AC, Eduardo Cde P, Ribeiro MS. Photodynamic therapy can be effective as a treatment for herpes simplex labialis. Photomed Laser Surg. 2009 Apr;27(2):357-63. doi: 10.1089/pho.2008.2268. PMID: 19382840.

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