The power of Blue Light – phototherapy for recovering from COVID-19


Blue light, emitted by LED lamps, is one of the phototherapy methods that has been recently enjoying great popularity, mainly in dermatology, but not only. Prof. Joanna Narbutt, Prof. Aleksandra Lesiak and Dr. n. med. Michał Chudzik undertook research on the application of blue light therapy in people who had been infected with COVID-19 but who were not hospitalized for this reason and hence did not regain full strength after the disease. Interview with Prof. Aleksandra Lesiak.

Professor, please tell me what is blue light that you use to treat patients?

Blue light, which we are talking about and which is also used in photodermatology, has a wavelength of 453 nanometers, which belongs to the visible light spectrum. Phototherapy has been used in dermatology for a long time, however we are looking for safer solutions. Currently, narrow band UVB at 311 nm and PUVA therapy is considered as the gold standard in phototherapy. It is effective and has been underpinned by a large body of scientific literature on this subject. However, ultraviolet light can cause damage on the DNA of the cell nucleus and bares a risk of inducing skin cancer. The mutagenic effect of blue light is very low. Therefore, it seems to be a safer form of phototherapy compared to UV irradiation.
Blue light therapy has anti-inflammatory and antipruritic (anti itch) properties. What is more is that it can also improve the mood by increasing the production of β-endorphins.
Interestingly, it is known that skin diseases worsen under stress. On the other hand, skin diseases themselves are the source of stress. People with visible manifestations of skin diseases are often stigmatized. Due to the chronic nature of some of them, patients often need the support of a psychologist or psychiatrist. That is why a holistic approach is so important. Blue light is part of this approach due to its biological ability to inhibit inflammation, as well as its relaxing and anti-stress effect. This is our hope for a breakthrough in the treatment of many skin diseases. The patients we treat at our center are patients with atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and chronic pruritus. In mid-February 2021, research using the device called PHLECS Full Body Blue has started. The group of study participants is getting bigger and the first data we are getting in are very promising.

Next to treatment of dermatological diseases, you have initiated research about the influence of blue light on complications after infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. How does blue-light work in this case?

In consultation with cardiologists, we applied blue light therapy on patients treated in a post-covid clinic who developed complications. COVID-19, a disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection, is characterized by a wide spectrum of symptoms, and its course and late complications are not fully understood. There are reports that patients who have had COVID-19 and have not been hospitalized for this reason may develop persistent symptoms in the form of chronic fatigue, dyspnea, psychological stress, decreased quality of life, and psychiatric disorders (anxiety, depression), sleep, concentration and memory disorders).
Based on studies on the influence of the blue light therapy on the increase of β-endorphin levels, reduction of systolic blood pressure, improvement of endothelial function and arterial stiffness, together with representatives of PHLECS, the manufacturer of the Full Body Blue Light device, we hypothesized that blue light therapy could be beneficial for a range of these persistent symptoms.

Is the whole body irradiated during the session?

Patients receive half-hour illumination sessions 2-3 times a week. It is a very pleasant light with a soothing feeling of warmth. A substitute for staying on the beach on a sunny day, i.e. half an hour of such relaxation in a lying position. Patients are really satisfied. It is a kind of holistic pharmacology with a relaxing effect. I am going to undergo such exposure myself, because everything that is happening now has taken its toll on me. The COVID-19 situation is stressful for us all. I think that in the future, blue light can also be used to treat seasonal mood swings. In fact, light therapy is already used in psychiatry, but when delivered intraocular (i.e. via the eyes).

Where can people who want to take part in the survey apply?

We started the survey in February 2021. You can still apply at www.stop- However, it is important to remember about the inclusion criteria for the study, which only includes people who suffered from COVID-19, but were not hospitalized for this reason, and still experience symptoms 4 weeks after the end of the disease including fatigue (which is at least 50% higher compared to the what it was before the onset of COVID-19).

Adapted after using Google Translate, original article in Polish: