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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Oct;71(4):764-71. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2014.05.047. Epub 2014 Jun 12.

Photodynamic therapy using chlorophyll-a in the treatment of acne vulgaris: a randomized, single-blind, split-face study.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital, Anyang, Korea.
  • 2Department of Dermatology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Institute of Human-Environment Interface Biology, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Seoul 365mc Obesity Hospital, Seoul, Korea. Electronic address:



Chlorophyll-a is a novel photosensitizer recently tested for the treatment of acne vulgaris.


We sought to evaluate the clinical efficacy and safety of chlorophyll-a photodynamic therapy used for acne treatment.


Subjects with acne on both sides of the face were included. Eight treatment sessions were performed over a 4-week duration. Half of the face was irradiated using a blue and red light-emitting diode after topical application of chlorophyll-lipoid complex. The other half underwent only light-emitting diode phototherapy. The lesion counts and acne severity were assessed by a blinded examiner. Sebum secretion, safety, and histologic changes were also evaluated.


In total, 24 subjects completed the study. Facial acne improved on both treated sides. On the chlorophyll-a photodynamic therapy-treated side, there were significant reductions in acne lesion counts, acne severity grades, and sebum levels compared with the side treated with light-emitting diode phototherapy alone. The side effects were tolerable in all the cases.


All the subjects were of Asian descent with darker skin types, which may limit the generalizability of the study. A chlorophyll-a arm alone is absent, as is a no-treatment arm.


We suggest that chlorophyll-a photodynamic therapy for the treatment of acne vulgaris can be effective and safe with minimal side effects.


acne vulgaris; chlorophyll-a; light-emitting diode; photodynamic therapy; photosensitizer; treatment

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