Using Red Light Therapy for shingles is gaining more and more attention from specialists all over the world. Shingle is a condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus (the same virus that causes chickenpox). Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that often causes a painful rash that most commonly appears as a single band of blisters around a human torso’s left or right side. After healing from chicken pox, the virus can remain inactive in nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain, and the virus can later reactivate as shingles.
Below is a photo of an ARRC LED system user response to shingles. Notice regression in 4 days.
How does Red Light Therapy for shingles work?
Photobiomodulation devices such as the Red Light Therapy beds use light that does not heat the skin. Instead, a photochemical interaction between the tissue and the light beam occurs at a cellular level. Although there is no clear consensus on the actual mechanism, understanding is constantly increasing. Recently some researchers studied the mechanism of light beam interaction at both cellular and tissue levels using different light sources and dosimetry. In a similar study, other researchers examined the therapy’s nuts and bolts. The studies suggest that light can change cell membrane permeability. The theory is that photons are absorbed in the cell’s mitochondria, accelerating cellular reproduction and growth. Then fibroblast development is stimulated, metabolic rate is increased, swelling is reduced, blood flow increases and the light promotes nerve cell healing and communication.
One of the most researched potential benefits of the therapy is the possible pain reduction, anti-inflammatory effects, and aid in wound healing.
Recent research has concluded that RLT can modulate the inflammatory process and thus relieve acute pain in the short term. Some potential mechanisms of action are neurophysiological effects, endogenous opioid release, and local microcirculatory and angiogenic effects.
Red light therapy and green light therapy each have their own unique pathway for pain relief. Green in fact adds to the pain relieving benefits of Red/Infrared.
There are also possible local anti-inflammatory effects, biochemical marker effects, and effects on cells and soft tissues. The theory is that this treatment may also lead to a reduced risk of post-herpetic neuralgia, which is associated with acute pain. Although researchers have not been able to determine a clear and precise mechanism of red light therapy, this therapy seems to help treat chronic and non-healing wounds and acute herpes zoster lesions. Furthermore, future double-blind, large-scale studies with long-term follow-up are needed to evaluate LED’s clinical benefits in treating acute herpes zoster.
Most of the suggested benefits of Red Light Therapy for shingles are:
- The transmission of the virus is blocked
- The virus is unable to move.
- Reduce the pain caused by shingles.
In one study regarding the use of Red Light Therapy for shingles, 28 patients with no previous medical history known to influence wound healing, such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, or immunosuppression, were randomized into two groups; the control (A) and the experimental (B) group. All patients in both groups received treatment with an antiviral agent and analgesics three times a day for seven days. Subjects in group A also received treatment with conventional methods such as topical washing, cleaning lesions, and removing necrotic tissue. Subjects in group B received the same treatment and RLT. The skin was exposed to 830 nm wavelength light at a setting of 55 mW/cm2 for 10 minutes twice per week. The results show that the healing time was 13.14±2.34 days in group B and 15.92±2.55 days in group A. Regarding pain management, from day 4, the score showed more significant improvement in group B compared with group A.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many Red Light Therapy sessions do I need for shingles?
According to the research, you must go through at least 20 sessions. In practice, ARRC LED has seen photobiomodulation using Red/infrared and green light reduce shingles outbreaks in a matter of 3 – 4 sessions.
How can Red Light Therapy treatment help with shingles?
The effects of RLT for shingles treatment have been suggested to be related to the stimulation of fibroblast activity and the improvement of mitochondrial functions.