Heat Therapy for Acne

Acne affects millions of people and there are varied acne treatments in the market. If you go to the nearby health store or supermarket, you will find lotions, creams, gels, and these days even hand-held devices to treat acne at home. 

Heat therapy for acne is called ‘Pulsed Light and Heat Therapy (LHE)’. It combines pulses of heat and light that target both the sebaceous glands and P.acnes bacteria – the 2 main causes of acne. 

By shrinking the sebaceous glands, heat therapy for acne (LHE) can reduce production of sebum (skin oil). The US FDA has approved LHE for treatment of mild-to-moderate acne outbreaks where a pulsed green light is used to target acne. Patients have shown an improvement after a month of treatment and this improvement extended to even 2 months after stopping LHE therapy. 

Heat therapy devices

Heat therapy for acne has grown in popularity. Along with it has grown the number of at-home devices that use heat energy to treat acne outbreaks. Just as we have blue light devices, a popular heat therapy device is ‘Zeno’. This device works by targeting each zit individually and killing P.acnes bacteria within. Zeno hand-held device resembles a silver cell phone, and is sold by cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists or can be purchased online. 

There are two Zeno heat therapy devices. The ‘Zeno Heat Treat’ device uses heat therapy for acne by targeting the bacterial infection. A salicylic gel is provided that is applied to the face or other acne infected areas by gently massaging it into the skin. Salicylic acid is very effective in treating acne. The gel must be careful massaged into the skin. Now turn on the heat from the device and direct it on the acne until all the gel is absorbed. It is best to do this therapy in the evening. Salicylic acid clears current outbreaks by peeling away skin and clearing pores. It uses low heat and can cure mild acne outbreaks. No independent reviews on the effectiveness of this device are available, although the benefits of salicylic acid for acne are well known. 

The other Zeno heat therapy for acne device is called ‘Zeno Hot Spot’. This device can be used 80 times until the tip has to be replaced. It has a handheld device that is computer operated. There is a treatment tip that delivers specific heat to individual zits and destroys bacteria. The heat can be adjusted so that it kills bacteria without burning the skin. There are no gels or ointments to be used hence it is less messy. It treats mild-to-moderate acne outbursts but not effective for blackheads, whiteheads or severe acne. Doctors suggest this heat therapy be used in combination with OTC products and prescription medications. This device has been approved by US FDA and can be used at home or in a medical clinic. 

heat therapy for acne


While heat therapy for acne has been approved by the FDA, there are no studies on its long term benefits and its effect on severe acne. Since these therapies do not require stringent research like drugs, their long term side effects are unknown. The main drawback of heat therapy like other laser and light therapies is the cost of treatment. Since insurance does not cover these costs, patients could be landed with a huge bill.

Hence, consult your dermatologist who will advise you if such heat therapy will work in your particular case. While hand-held devices reduce doctor’s fees, you must follow precise instructions when using such equipment.