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Photodynamic Therapy for Acne Vulgaris

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  Photodynamic therapy requires a photosensitizer, oxygen, and activating light. For acne, pilosebaceous units are ‘‘target’’ structures. Porphyrins are synthesized in vivo from 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), particularly in pilosebaceous units. Different photosensitizers and drug delivery methods have been reported for acne treatment. There are a variety of porphyrin precursors with different pharmacokinetic properties. Among them, ALA and methyl-ester of ALA (MAL) are available for possible off-label treatment of acne vulgaris. In addition, various light sources, light dosimetry, drug incubation time, and pre- and posttreatment care also change efficacy and side effects. None of these variables has been optimized for acne treatment, but a number of clinical trials provide helpful guidance. In this paper, we critically analyze clinical trials, case reports, and series of cases published through 2009. ( J Am Acad Dermatol 2010;63:195-211.)