Does Light Therapy For Rosacea Work?

If you have chronic rosacea and want to know what treatments are available for this skin condition, you are in the right place! Depending on a few factors, there are several treatments to consider and light therapy for rosacea is one of them. 

Light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses LED lights to target the cells to help heighten their function. LED light therapy can also stimulate dermal blood flow to make your skin heal faster.

This explains how light therapy can help reduce rosacea symptoms and we will also be talking about other options available to treat rosacea. If you are ready to try and improve your symptoms, read on!

Disclaimer: The content in this article is for informational purposes only. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.

What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that typically appears in middle-aged or older people. It is also an inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, itchy, and red skin.

Rosacea typically appears on the face, particularly the chin, cheeks, forehead, and nose. Both men and women can get rosacea, but it is more commonly seen in women. However, unlike men, women typically do not get severe rosacea [1].

People who have fairer skin also tend to get rosacea than people who have darker skin. However, that does not mean that those with a darker skin tone do not get rosacea.

According to a study, there are at least 40 million cases of rosacea prevalent in people who have darker skin [2]. Most cases of rosacea in darker skin are misdiagnosed because dark skin typically masks the redness of the skin.

Causes Of Rosacea

The cause of rosacea is still unknown however, rosacea can be triggered by several factors.

If you have rosacea, it could be because of genetics. For those who have family members with a history of rosacea, chances are you have inherited it from them. Rosacea can also be triggered by environmental factors such as sun exposure or extreme temperatures.

Ingredients in your skincare or cosmetic products can also be a factor that could trigger rosacea, especially if you have sensitive skin. Eating spicy foods, consuming hot drinks, and alcoholic beverages can also trigger rosacea.

Aside from environmental factors and skin care products, intestinal bacteria such as H. pylori and skin mites (Demodex) could also be a factor that could trigger rosacea. 

Signs And Symptoms Of Rosacea

Signs And Symptoms Of Rosacea

Rosacea has four subtypes and they all have specific symptoms. You can get one subtype but it is also possible to get multiple subtypes of rosacea simultaneously.

Here are the four types of rosacea and their particular symptoms:

Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea (ETR)

This type of rosacea is associated with having red skin. Aside from having redness in the skin, other symptoms of ETR include visible broken blood vessels, swollen skin, dry skin, itchy and scaly skin, and a feeling of stinging or burning sensation in the skin.

Papulopustular Rosacea

This subtype of rosacea is also called acne rosacea. This is because you develop symptoms that are typically seen in acne-prone skin. Symptoms include red skin, breakouts, sensitive skin, oily skin, visible broken blood vessels, and bumps in the skin.

Phymatous Rosacea

This skin condition causes your skin to thicken and scarring is also a common appearance if you have phymatous rosacea. The nose is typically affected by this condition which is why it is often called a bulbous nose or rhinophyma. Phymatous rosacea often affects men more than women.

Ocular Rosacea

This subtype of rosacea primarily affects the eyes. Symptoms include dryness and itchiness of the eyes, cysts or stye appearing on the eyelids, bloodshot and watery eyes, sensitivity to light, and broken vessels on the eyelids.

Light Therapy For Rosacea

Rosacea can be treated using different methods depending on what your doctor would suggest. To get rid of rosacea, your healthcare provider may suggest using LED light therapy.

This treatment is non-invasive and is effective in treating rosacea. There are different kinds of LED light therapy and this treatment uses wavelengths from the corresponding light to penetrate your skin.

Red light therapy can reduce redness and inflammation as it can penetrate further into your skin. Yellow light therapy can also minimize redness, reduce inflammation, and encourage the production of red cells to heal your skin. Yellow light also penetrates deep into your skin but red light therapy travels further. Like red and yellow light, blue light therapy can also reduce skin inflammation, redness, and acne-like symptoms. However, blue light only penetrates the uppermost layer of the skin.

Another effective light therapy for erythema, telangiectasia, and papule is by undergoing Intense Pulsed Light therapy (IPL). This treatment is also non-invasive and it can improve the pigmentation and texture of your skin.

Who Should Not Get Light Therapy For Rosacea?

Make sure to consult your doctor if you are planning to get light therapy for rosacea. While light therapy is an effective treatment for rosacea, not everyone can get this treatment.

If you have eye problems or are sensitive to light, it may not be a good idea to get light therapy. If you are currently taking medications that make you sensitive to light, you should consult your doctor to see if light therapy is possible for you. If you have a history of skin cancer or eye disease, you should also consult a healthcare provider first before getting light therapy.

Side Effects Of Light Therapy

As effective as light therapy is in treating rosacea, you may experience some side effects after your treatment. Redness in the skin, as well as rashes or spots, are common after undergoing light therapy. 

You can also experience some itching, pain, or tightening of the skin during your treatment. It is very rare to have scarring, especially if your doctor is skilled.

These side effects are temporary and they typically fade in 1 to 2 weeks. To make sure you are in the best hands, find a doctor that is experienced in light therapy treatments or a doctor who treats rosacea often. Going to a doctor who is very knowledgeable about rosacea can give you the treatment that is best for your skin condition.

Light Therapy Cost

The cost of light therapy for rosacea will depend on your healthcare provider and the severity of your condition. Light therapy typically costs a couple of hundred dollars per session and this kind of treatment usually requires multiple sessions.

Health insurance typically does not cover light therapy treatments so you will have to pay out of pocket if you do decide to get light therapy to treat rosacea. You can still call your health insurance provider to confirm in the treatment is going to be covered or not to be on the safe side.

Other Treatments For Rosacea

Light therapy is not the only treatment for rosacea. There are several alternatives for light therapy and these alternatives can be effective in treating rosacea.

Laser Treatment

Laser treatments such as pulsed dye laser and carbon dioxide (CO2) laser can be effective in reducing rosacea symptoms. Invasive and non-invasive laser treatments are available to reduce redness, and visible blood vessels, and remove the thickening of your skin.

Both light and laser treatments can last 3 to 5 years. These are not permanent treatments as new blood vessels can form again in your skin.

Like light therapy, laser treatment for rosacea costs a couple of hundred dollars and may require several sessions for the treatment to work. These kinds of treatments can get expensive, especially if they are not covered by your insurance.

Proper Skincare

Using skincare products that can help relieve and calm rosacea symptoms can help prevent flare-ups from happening. Products that contain azelaic acid, niacinamide, or aloe vera can help keep your symptoms at bay.

If you do decide on getting light therapy, your doctor may also suggest specific products to prevent rosacea from coming back quickly. Make sure to avoid products with ingredients such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid, hydroquinone, or benzoyl peroxide as these can trigger rosacea.

Topical Treatments

There are over-the-counter (OTC) products that can help keep rosacea symptoms at bay. Products that have anti-inflammatory properties can help relieve rosacea symptoms. It is always good to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of rosacea. Your doctor can give you prescription topical or oral medicine, such as antibiotics, to help treat rosacea.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does Light Therapy Work For Rosacea?

Yes, light therapy is effective in treating rosacea. Light therapy can reduce redness, skin inflammation, and it can also improve the appearance of your skin.

Do Light Therapy Masks Help With Rosacea?

Light therapy masks can help if you have a mild case of rosacea however, use these masks with caution as not all of them are FDA approved. If you are going to use LED masks, make sure it has FDA approval. If your skin has a negative reaction to the mask, stop using them and if your symptoms get worse, call your doctor immediately.

Wrap Up

While rosacea is a chronic skin condition, you can undergo treatment to help reduce its symptoms. Light therapy is one of the effective treatments available to keep rosacea symptoms at bay. Most people with rosacea prefer red or yellow light therapy as these two can penetrate deep into the skin.

Light therapy is noninvasive but if you don’t want to do light therapy, we also talked about other treatments for rosacea in this article. At the end of the day, consulting with your doctor is the best way to know what kind of treatment is best for your condition.