Red Light Therapy Treats Yeast Infections

light therapy for yeast infections

Light treatment using red or infrared light has been shown to be highly effective against a whole host of recurrent infections all over the body, whether they are fungal or bacterial in origin.

In this article we’re going to look over red light for fungal infections, (a.k.a. candida, yeast, mycosis, thrush, candidiasis, etc.) and related conditions such as vaginal thrush, jock itch, balanitis, nail infections, oral thrush, ringworm, athlete’s foot, etc.

Contents

Introduction
Light Therapy Reduces Inflammation
Red Light Kills Yeast
Solving Recurrent Infections with Light
Ideal Light for Yeast Treatment
Summary
References

Introduction

It’s surprising just how many of us suffer from chronic infections on a weekly or monthly basis. While some may write it off as a part of life, inflammatory issues like this are not normal and need to be treated.

candida yeast infection vaginal
Illustration of a candida based vaginal thrush infection

Suffering from recurring infections puts the skin in a state of constant inflammation, and in this state the body forms scar tissue rather than healing with normal healthy tissue. This disrupts the function of a body part forever, which is a major problem in areas like the genitals.

Whatever and wherever on the body you might be prone to these issues, it’s likely that red light therapy will help significantly, if not cure it permanently.

Why exactly is red light so effective against infections? How should you apply the red light to achieve best results?

Here are a few ways in which light therapy helps:-


Red Light Reduces Inflammation

Redness, soreness, itchiness and pain are typically linked to infections, as the immune system tries to defend against the aggressive microorganisms. The stress of this interaction on the local tissue contributes towards increased inflammation, which contributes to fungal growth. Many prescriptions and creams used for treating infections contain anti-inflammatory compounds like hydrocortisone. These can help the body to deal with the stress, but often just mask the underlying problem.

Fig 1. Graph summarising the short term effects of 630-780nm red light.
FIG 1. Graph summarising the short term effects of low dose 630-780nm red light on inflammation.(5)

Red light actually helps the body to deal with the metabolic causes of inflammation5, allowing cells to produce more ATP and CO2 through our normal respiration reaction. These products of respiration have an almost identical effect to anti-inflammatory compounds in that they inhibit prostaglandin synthesis (prostaglandins being a main mediator of the inflammatory response) and stop the release of various inflammatory cytokines.

inflammation reduction in cell after
Changes in cellular metabolism to downregulate inflammation after exposure to red light

Some people think inflammation is a necessary part of the healing response to infections or injury, but it should be considered a symptom of the body not working correctly. This can be shown by how in the fetus of most animals, it’s normal for an injury to heal without any inflammation whatsoever, and even in childhood, inflammation is minimal and resolved quickly. It’s only as we age and our cells stop functioning properly that inflammation increases and becomes a problem. Red light helps to restore the youthful metabolism that prevents harmful inflammation.


Light Therapy Kills Yeast & Bacteria

candida killed off by red light therapy
FIG 2. Chart showing the effect of a one time exposure of red 660nm light, at different doses (and control at 0), to candida colonies.3

Perhaps the main reason behind red light’s incredible effects on infections – red light directly destroys the fungal or bacterial micro-organisms infecting an area. Studies show a dose dependent effect, so it’s important to get the right amount of exposure. It seems that higher doses and longer exposure times eradicate more of the candidaFIG 2. Low doses seem to just inhibit the growth of yeast.

Fungical treatments involving red light usually also involve a photosensitizer chemical, in a combination therapy known as photodynamic therapy. While adding photosensitizer chemicals such as methylene blue does improve the fungicidal effects of red light, red light alone still has a good effect2-3. This seems to be due to the micro-organisms already containing their own endogenous photosensitizer components, which our human cells do not. The red or infrared light supposedly interacts with these chemicals in the fungal cells, causing a destructive chain reaction that ultimately destroys them.

Whatever the mechanism is, red light therapy alone is effective at clearing infections from a wide range of fungi and bacteria, in a way that even drug-resistant super strains cannot resist. The beauty of using red light to treat infections is that while the micro-organisms are being killed, your own skin cells are producing more energy/CO2 and so inflammation is reduced –

Red light kills the infection, but strengthens you at the same time.

yeast colonies growing on agar plate
Before
red laser hitting candida
yeast colonies after red light therapy
After

Fig 3. Yeast cells growing on a nutrient plate. Red light being used to kill yeast in the lab at 685nm1-2.


Solving recurring & chronic yeast infections

oral light therapy
Red light can be used to treat oral candida issues

Many people experience relapses and recurrent infections, so finding a long term solution is crucial. Both of the above effects (healing without inflammation and sterilising the skin of harmful micro-organisms) of red light lead to a third additive effect – healthier skin and better resistance to future infections.

Low amounts of candida/yeast are a normal part of our skin flora, usually causing no negative effects. Low levels of inflammation (from any cause) actually promote the growth of these yeast organisms specifically, and then the growth leads to more inflammation – a classic vicious cycle. The tiny increase in inflammation quickly esclatates into a full blown infection.6

Red light being used to treat toenail fungus
Red light being used to treat toenail fungus

This can be from hormonal, physical, chemical, allergy related, or various other sources – many things affect inflammation.

Using red light to directly treat current thrush infections is an effective therapy, giving quicker resolution. Using red light when you feel a infection coming on is an even better idea, literally ‘nipping it in the bud’. Using red light consistently over weeks and months to prevent the yeast infection/inflammation entirely (thus allowing your skin to fully heal and flora to normalise) is the ideal long term solution. The skin in commonly infected areas needs several weeks without any inflammation to fully heal. With the natural structure of the skin restored, resistance to both inflammation and future infection is massively improved.

Fungal spores are more resistant to treatments and are the primary reason for recurrent infections. Using a drying powder in conjunction with light therapy treatment, and using it consistently for weeks, will help to further eradicate a recurrent infection. Corn starch is proven effective as a drying powder for killing off yeast. A corn starch based ‘baby powder’ with zinc oxide will greatly help.


What type of light do I need?

Nearly all of the studies in this field use red light, most commonly in the 660-685nm range. Several studies exist that use infrared light at wavelengths of 780nm and 830nm and they show almost identical results per dose applied.2

The dose of red or infrared energy applied seems to be the main factor to consider for results, rather than wavelength. Any wavelength between 600-900nm will likely be effective.

With the available data, it seems like red light gives slightly more anti-inflammatory effects. Infrared light gives a slightly greater fungicidal effect. The differences are only slight though and not conclusive. Both have a strong anti-inflammatory/fungicidal effect. Both of these effects are equally essential for resolving fungal infections.

Infrared has better penetration properties than red, which perhaps makes it superior for fungal infections in the vagina or mouth. Red light may not physically be able to reach candida colonies further inside the vagina, whereas infrared light may. Red light seems suitable for all other instances of fungal infections of the skin.

How to use it?

One thing we can take from the scientific data is that higher doses of light eradicate more of the fungal infection. Consequently, longer exposure times and closer exposure leads to better results. As the fungal cells directly lead to inflammation, it follows that higher doses of red light also resolve the inflammation better than low doses.

It seems like a dose of around 30 J/cm² is a good target for skin infection treatment sessions, which is about 5 minutes with something like our Red Light Mini.

For vaginal or oral candida, you will want much longer treatment times, in order to reach a 30 J/cm² or higher dose inside. With something suitable like the Infrared Mini 830, you might want to use it for 15+ minutes.


Summary

  • Light therapy offers a non-invasive, no side-effect, long-term treatment for fungal issues.
    • Red & infrared light are both equally effective.
  • The fungi are killed through a photosensitive mechanism not present in human cells.
  • Inflammation is reduced to a similar extent as with conventional drugs
    • Partly metabolic improvements, partly killing the fungi
  • Light therapy is both an acute treatment as well as a preventative tool.
  • Higher doses of light are necessary.
    • Typically 5-20+ minutes of treatment

References

  1. Effect of low-level laser therapy on Candida albicans growth in patients with denture stomatitis. Maver-Biscanin M. 2005
  2. Effects of low-level laser irradiation on the pathogenicity of Candida albicans: in vitro and in vivo study. Seyedmousavi S. 2014
  3. Comparison of the photodynamic fungicidal efficacy of methylene blue, toluidine blue, malachite green and low-power laser irradiation alone against Candida albicans. Souza RC. 2010
  4. Antimicrobial photodynamic inactivation inhibits Candida albicans virulence factors and reduces in vivo pathogenicity. IT Kato – ‎2013
  5. The anti-inflammatory mechanism of low level laser therapy and its relevance for clinical use in physiotherapy. Jan Magnus Bjordal. 2010
  6. Inflammation and gastrointestinal Candida colonization. Carol A. Kumamoto. 2011
  7. In Vitro effect of low-level laser therapy on typical oral microbial biofilms. FG Basso. ‎2011
  8. Treatment of oral candidiasis with methylene blue-mediated photodynamic therapy in an immunodeficient murine model. MC Teichert. ‎2002

38 thoughts on “Red Light Therapy Treats Yeast Infections

  1. Alice Ihde says:

    Do you use externally in abdominal area for recurrent yeast infections? Please describe exacxtly how to use for this!

  2. Alice Ihde says:

    Can you use on different areas of head to effect changes in the brain post traumatically? What times are indicated, and spaced in what way? Every other day, daily, etc., for 2 min.?

    • Joe says:

      Infrared light (810-850nm) has been studied for traumatic brain injury and does show promising results in terms of healing. Red and infrared light are great for wound healing on other areas of the body so it makes sense that the same would apply to brain damage. I think you would need a large dose of infrared (dose = power density x time), rather than any specific time, just to make sure enough total energy is getting into the brain. Maybe 100 J/cm2 is a good dose to start at, directly over the part of the brain with trauma. Every day is fine. Twice a day is fine.

  3. Alice Ihde says:

    What about shining it on different body parts affected by disease, such as arteries, joints, heart, organ systems? What would the prescribed doses and frequency be?

    • Joe says:

      The light will help with symptoms all over the body, so it’s a good idea yes. You should see a reduction in inflammation (via the increased CO2 from respiration inhibiting the prostaglandins/cytokines pathway), and a improvement in healing due to having more cellular energy. The doses basically depend on the depth of the tissue in the body, with deeper tissue requiring a larger dose. Red light is fine for say an artery in the neck or arm/foot. Infrared is going to be better if you want to treat organs and large joints. You will need an infrared light that can reach at least 200mW/cm2 power density for that deep penetration too.

  4. Mommy of two kittens says:

    Could a red laser (laser pointer) effectively be used for this treatment? I’m trying to clear up ringworm on two rescue kittens. I have anti fungal medicine from their veterinarian and would be using the red laser as an adjunct therapy.

    • Joe says:

      Sure, it will be better than nothing, although I’m not sure of the best application time with something like a laser pointer. Good luck. I would probably use it for at least 5 minutes, maybe 10 minutes, moving it over the infected area back and forth.

  5. James says:

    I have what I believe to be a low level localized recurring fungal infection that I can never quite get rid of. I have done every candida protocol under the sun and taken strong pharmaceutical antifungals as well as topical creams and I am fairly sure it’s not a gut issue as I experience no other fungal issues, rashes or any other skin conditions. More so now resistant candida from over treatment and low neutrophils from long term antibiotics.

    I am considering doing red light therapy. My question is, is there such a thing as too much? As in would 10 minutes a night for a month be suitable or longer?

    Secondly I found quite a few reference studies around methylene blue and light therapy as you mentioned but could not find a lot about safety when applying it topically, dilutions, dosages or anything like that. Small amounts seem to be safe orally but wondering how much of it penetrates the skin/how much is safe topically and given that it’s a dye, would it dye my skin if I used it night after night (I don’t want blue genitals haha),

    • Joe says:

      I’ve only found a linear dose response relationship in the literature regarding how red light kills yeast. So the longer/more the better. I think up to an hour is a day is fine or until the skin starts to get warm, although just 20 minutes is probably enough.
      I’m also not sure about the best dose of methylene blue for photodynamic therapy. I don’t think it will stain your skin for more than a few days max. I have noticed that using methylene blue and then applying red light afterwards on my skin gives quite an uncomfortable feeling, almost painful after a while. I would not recommend using it topically with red light therapy, because I think it may damage your own cells this way. Fungal cells already have an endogenous photosensitive pigment, so are suspecible to red light without needing the dye.
      I think it is best to use methylene blue orally for metabolic reasons, and use red light alone on the skin.

  6. Maureen McMahon says:

    Hi

    I have a yeast infection covering the whole right side of my right leg. It’s been going on for about three years. I did ha ve a whole body infection which I cleared up but as it started in the leg this is the most stubborn. I try everything but nothing works. the circle of the skin growing hard and building layers happens very quickly so I keep exfoliating it to keep it from turning into leather. I can see the little red yeast spots under the skin when I keep it exfoliated but it means sit is also in a constant state of inflammation so the vicious circle you speak about is ongoing. I have just bought a 300 watt infrared lamp and hope that by using this I may be able to kill it off eventually. Coconut oil and all that stuff has not gotten rid of it so I am at my wits end right now. I see how the skin is being damaged but feel helpless to really do anything to heal it. How long and how often would I need to use the lamp to see any improvement and a movement toward skin healing do you think in this situation?

    Thanks
    Maureen

    • Joe says:

      Hi Maureen,
      Wow, that sounds pretty bad. Sorry to hear about that.
      I’m not sure if those infrared heat lamps are effective against yeast as such, at least I didn’t see any studies on that. I would guess that they probably have some effect though. Just stop using it before your skin gets warm. You mainly want visible red or near-infrared light, and not just a broad spectrum infrared bulb (which will contain all sorts of mid and far infrared heat wavelengths which are linked to photoaging). So an LED source of light at 600-900nm is preferable for that precision in killing yeast, while reducing skin inflammation. I’m not sure the 300w lamps will be useful in the same way or how best to use it for infections.

      • Becky johnson says:

        Just take 2 tablespoons with any kind of juice. (Besides orange juice). You don’t have to do 2 tablespoons but are used to take 1 teaspoon a day and now I take 2 tablespoons because it helps with my joints. The vinegar is known to cure yeast

  7. Maureen McMahon says:

    Thanks so much for your response. I am completely confused now about the information above on how red light kills yeast with the diagrams pictures and graphs etc ? Could you recommend or point me in a direction of what device I should be looking for it I want to try this? There is so much conflicting information around the internet that it becomes nearly impossible to get a clear picture of how to use red light, and which wavelengths do what, that it begins to sound like smoke and mirrors :o)

    Maureen

  8. Heidi says:

    I have a systemic fungal/candida infection. Chronic sinus infections, skin breakouts on arms, hands and face with itchy rashes, and toenail fungus, and am about 80 lbs+ overweight. I have been reading about light therapy, Near Infrared and Far Infrared mostly. From what I’ve read, Near Infrared is best to treat almost all health issues. But I’m getting confused with the “Red” light therapy and the “Infrared” light therapy discussed here. Please explain in layman’s terms the red and the infrared as compared to the near and far infrared light therapies. Then, if you would please, a recommendation for what is needed to deal with my health concerns/issues. Thank you.

    • Joe says:

      Hi Heidi,
      Red light therapy uses visible red light at 600-700nm wavelength. Infrared light therapy uses near infrared light at 700-900nm wavelength.
      The far infrared you mention is not light, but is actually heat, at wavelengths of 15000nm to 1000000nm – vastly different to light. So far infrared is heat therapy, not light therapy. Far infrared doesn’t have the same biological mechanisms as red and near infrared.
      For whole body treatment, you just need to use our lights from further away. I think an infrared light (near infrared) will be best for you. With this product for example – https://redlightman.com/product/infrared-830-device/ – you can use it from 50cm away, which will treat an area the size of your torso. You would use it for 10 – 25 minutes at that distance. You can use it closer and for less time over areas like the toenails or sinuses. I would use it at least once every day.

  9. oliviaclymer says:

    I have a pseudomonas aerignosa infection (antibiotic resistant) and wonder if red lights are harmful for this? It appears I need the blue light spectrum to kill it, but want to at least verify I’m not making it worse with red light? Thank you!

  10. Asif Siddiqui says:

    Wondering if using either the red or the infrared light will have any benefits of treating SIBO?

    • Joe says:

      Hi Asif, I have not seen that studied much at all. I think it will help to at least some degree with the inflammation and symptoms, but I can’t say much more than that with certainty. I think a powerful source of near infrared light is the best choice to actually penetrate to the intestines and other internal organs.

  11. Nikki W. says:

    Hi Joe,
    You seem to be quite knowledgeable in all this so I trust your opinion.
    I’m tickled pink to find this website.
    I’ve recently purchased an irestorer system for hair since I’ve been losing so much of it and I really like the technology. Like Heidi, I have systematic Candida , trimethylaminuria and a cholestoma in my left ear that’s really bad. Would your 830 device be the best choice for me and do you ship to Canada.?
    Thank you kindly for your time .
    Nikki

    • Joe says:

      Hi Nikki,
      yes we ship to Canada, and yes the 830 Device would be a good choice. The power, design and wavelength of the 830 Device give it the best penetration, making it useful for the ear, and reaching candida inside the body and such.

  12. Julie says:

    My Mother has oral thrush and it is resistant to medications. It seems the 830 would be the correct choice for her, but I am not sure if the mini 830 or the red 830 would be the best choice for her.
    Also, how is this used for treating inside the mouth? Held near the outer skin surface or with the mouth open and exposed to the light?
    Thank you J JONES

    • Joe says:

      It is not something I have seen studied specifically in regards to light therapy. However pain relief in general, anywhere on the body, is well studied and effective. So it is safe to assume that using red light will help to reduce the vulvodynia related pain too.

  13. Joseph says:

    I have had jock itch for almost a year now, how many times a day and for how long should I do light therapy? My case of jock itch is mild.

    • Joe says:

      With something like our Red 670 Device – https://redlightman.com/product/red-670-light-device/ – from a distance of 20cm, you would use it several times a day. Keeping the area dry is key (and I mean really dry).
      I would use the red light in the morning until the skin is noticeably dry, then again after a shower/bath, even after going to the toilet, just to keep the skin permamently dry and reduce moisture throughout the day.
      You should also considering using a low EMF fan to blow the area dry at the same time as applying the light.
      After the treatment, applying a corn starch based baby powder to prevent any moisture build up as you go about your day is essential too.
      This sort of thorough drying is far more effective than any medicated cream and should sort out chronic yeast issues such as jock itch in just a few days. The yeast organisms are just eradicated without moisture, especially in combination with red light.
      Continue doing this fairly regularly for ~3 weeks, even after symptopms have gone, to ensure most of the spores are gone too.

  14. Lindsay says:

    Could you please tell me which red light would be best for a fingernail infection, a 670 or 830? It looks like a fungus and has been cultured a few times but it never turns out to be a fungus. So maybe it’s a bacteria, I don’t know. Thank you!

    • Joe says:

      Hi Lindsay, I think they would be about equal – both seem effective for killing off the yeast, and various other microorganisms. I think the main thing in addition to light therapy is keeping the area as dry as possible.

  15. Monica says:

    Hello,

    Have you ever found any research on red light therapy curing tinea versicolor. It is a fungal infection and I stubborn one. Someone told me they cured their TV with blue light therapy, but I came across this website while researching and now I am curious if red light therapy can work for my TV.

    Thank you.

    • Joe says:

      I haven’t seen much on your specific condition, but there is one study:

      https://www.worldwidejournals.com/indian-journal-of-applied-research-(IJAR)/file.php?val=September_2016_1492160593__159.pdf

      They are not so specific about the wavelength, but they are using either a 670nm or near infrared source of light (based on the material they mention – Gallium Aluminum Arsenide). From the research I have seen on other yeast and bacteria, any wavelength in the 600-900 range should work.
      It seems useful for your Versicolor condition according to this study, reducing itching and clearing up the scales in time.

      I would probably try this device in your situation – https://redlightman.com/product/red-670-light-device/

      To replicate those study conditions (14.4 J/cm2 / 3 minutes), you would have to use this 670 light device from roughly 15cm away, 3 minutes per area, and twice per day.

      The problem with blue light therapy, which does kill bacteria/yeast too, also harms your own cells, reducing immunity and increasing photoaging.

  16. Luc says:

    Hello, how would these products compare with the TDP lamp (can emit far infrared radiation that ranges from 2 to 50 micrometers)? Thanks in advance.

    • Joe says:

      They are just completely different things. Like comparing radio waves to microwaves.
      Far infrared is just a source of heat, heating water in your skin cells. The light therapy products we sell act on your mitochondria, penetrating deeper than far infrared, and increasing your own energy production and reducing inflammation.

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