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Can You Treat Acne With an iPhone App?

AcneApp Promises to Clear Skin With Light Therapy; Dermatologists Express Doubts

Other Dermatologists Weigh in on AcneApp

A. David Rahimi, a Los Angeles dermatologist and attending dermatologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, says light therapy has been around a while for acne. "There are several light and laser devices that help clear acne,'' he says. The results, however, are inconsistent, he says.

He tried the AcneApp himself. ''There was no heat generation from the flashing blue-red light and I did not feel any sensation on the skin," he says.

''The concept is right," Rahimi tells WebMD. "But I don't think the iPhone has enough energy to do anything productive for the acne."

Though the wavelength of light used in the AcneApp is similar to that used in office-based light treatments, the intensity of the light used by dermatologists ''is at least thousands of times greater," agrees David Pariser, MD, a Norfolk, Va., dermatologist and president of the American Academy of Dermatology. "I would be very surprised if there is enough intensity of the light [from AcneApp] to make any difference."

So aside from wasting $1.99 and still coping with zits, is there any potential harm?

Yes, Rahimi says. "I am worried about the patient with deep cystic acne and open, draining sores that uses this app.'' Bacteria on the phone could lead to a skin infection, he says.

Clinical studies of AcneApp at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston are coming, according to some news reports.

But a spokeswoman at the Baylor press office, who checked with the Baylor dermatology department, says no one there has information on a clinical trial of the app.

That's not cool, says Rahimi. ''If the doctor wants to sell this app, I think he owes the public some studies," Rahimi says.

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