All about the fitness and health lifestyle
All about the fitness and health lifestyle

Is There Any Downside to Red Light Therapy?

Last Updated:
May 16, 2023

Is There Any Downside to Red Light Therapy

In recent years, red light therapy has become a popular treatment option for skin conditions and muscle tissue repair. In fact, this light therapy option has become so popular that there are now many at-home device options. But, is there any downside to red light therapy and should you be using it?

What is red light therapy?

Red Light Therapy is a treatment to help skin, muscle tissue and other parts of your body heal. It uses a device to expose your skin to a lamp or laser with a red light. This near-infrared red light uses low levels of heat to target the mitochondria of your cells. This then generates the energy to promote healing. It is important to note that this light is not the same as UV light used in tanning beds and it should not burn your skin. Depending on the treatment purpose, you should get red light therapy at a hospital or in a clinical setting. This is especially true for muscle issues. However, there are various safe skincare red light devices available for home use.

Is there a downside to red light therapy?

While red light therapy is cleared by FDA for use, there are certain risks especially when using at-home devices.

Harmful if overused

One of the biggest downsides is overuse, which can halt progress or cause migraines. This is why you should always check the manufacturer's guidelines, or get treatment from a reliable practitioner. Additionally, those who are photosensitive or pregnant should avoid using this treatment completely.


Red light therapy treatments can be time-consuming depending on the condition you are treating. Sessions are usually daily, or every second day for 10 minutes to an hour long. This can be a huge time commitment, especially for those with busy lives.

Won’t work for everyone

While red light therapy seems to work for most people, there are some users who have seen little to no improvement in their condition. Thus, it is important to be aware that results will vary for each individual.

Not covered by insurance

As red light therapy is commonly a cosmetic treatment, it is not usually covered by typical insurance. This means you will need to pay for treatment out of pocket and costs can quickly add up at $25-$300 per session.

What conditions can red light therapy treat?

Current research and studies show that the following conditions can benefit from proper red light therapy treatments.

Skin issues

Red light therapy is most popular for helping to treat skin conditions like acne, eczema, and psoriasis. For the treatment to work, experts recommend regular use of a certified red light mask in conjunction with moisturizers specific to your skin type.

Joint Pain

As red light therapy can ease inflammation, it is a great treatment option for those with sore, or stiff joints. The light and heat help to increase blood to the affected area to promote healing.

Mood and energy level swings

Red light therapy is shown to reduce the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and can also help to improve energy levels.

Sore muscles

Red light therapy can be a great recovery tool for athletes. As the near-infrared light and heat reduce inflammation, and increase blood flow, using this therapy option can help target injured areas. This leads to a shorter recovery time and reduces the chance of injury due to tired muscles.

While there is a potential downside or two of red light therapy, this treatment option is generally considered safe. For best results and to ensure correct timing and use, consult a local certified practitioner before trying at home.

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