IPL Rosacea Treatment Could Make Your Rosacea Worse

IPL Rosacea

Light treatment could actually make your rosacea worse, not better.

IPL (intense pulsed light) seems like a option worth investigating when you're suffering from (stubborn) Rosacea. In fact, IPL may even feel like a last resort if you're skin is not responding to the array of medications aimed at solving the root cause of rosacea: Metronidazole (metrogel), Finacea, Oracea, Soolantra, Miravaso, and many others.  

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a technology "used by cosmetic and medical practitioners to perform various skin treatments for aesthetic and therapeutic purposes, including hair removal, photorejuvenation (e.g. the treatment of skin pigmentation, sun damage, and thread veins) as well as to alleviate dermatologic diseases such as acne". IPL uses pulsed-light filters and varying wavelengths to target the different types of blood vessels, reducing the size and quantity of blood vessels in the skin. 

However, only certain subtypes of Rosacea patients should consider using IPL to alleviate rosacea symptoms and rosacea sufferers should stay far, far away from this laser treatment.

IPL/Rosacea Treatment


Intense pulsed light can sometimes be a really good cosmetic treatment for Rosacea patients who suffer from erythema and telangiectasia (rosacea subtype #1). Erythema is the superficial reddening of the skin, usually in patches, as a result of injury or irritation causing dilatation of the blood capillaries. Telangiectasia is a condition in which widened blood vessels cause threadlike red lines or patterns on the skin.  

Patients suffering from Rosacea subtype #2 (papulopustular rosacea, or better known as acne rosacea) have been told in the past that IPL treatment is an effective and safe treatment. In 2002, Dr. Neil Sadick said at a symposium sponsored by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, that Intense pulsed light appears to kill Demodex mites around hair follicles and sebaceous glands (oil glands), which could make it useful in treating rosacea. This IPL/rosacea treatment is out of date and potentially harmful to papulopustular rosacea sufferers.      

IPL/Rosacea Side Effects

In a new research study published in Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy Demodex (skin mites), which are light and heat sensitive, is an important risk factor of when evaluating IPL as a treatment for rosacea. They found that sometimes, IPL can induce rosacea aggravation in their patients skin. In the study, they show two cases of erythema rosacea aggravated as pustule in several hours after IPL.

Both cases show high density of Demodex after IPL. Neither patients suffered from: photosensitivity, systemic disease, or any other contraindication for IPL. One of the patients received IPL again after Demodex infection relieved and this time there was no inflammation induction.

For those of you considering IPL for your rosacea, please discuss the potential side effects at length with your dermatologist or primary care physician.