Red light Therapy and Rosacea:What you need to know.
Red light therapy is an ‘alternative medicine’ that offers significant potential in improving our health and well- being. Also known as level laser therapy (LLLT), biostimulation (BIOS) or photonic stimulation, it has become a widely popular and accepted form of skin treatment amongst practitioners in the dermatology community. In addition to its many other benefits, red light therapy has the ability to repair and restore tissue as it improves the appearance of facial skin. More specifically, by using red light-emitting diodes (LED’s) that diffuse wavelengths through a person’s skin, red light therapy has the ability to “energize” cells. It is an effective treatment for rosacea and other skin conditions because it can increase the production of collagen, decrease inflammation and aid in the formation of new capillaries, which are essential mechanisms in repairing, restoring and renewing skin.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is defined as a common chronic inflammatory disorder of the facial skin characterized by periods of exacerbation, remission and possible progression.(1) Affecting over 16 million people in the US alone, it is more prevalent among people who are fair skinned or middle aged; yet, can affect anyone at any time during their life. It generally appears on the center area of the face affecting the chin, cheeks, nose and forehead. Causing very small red-inflamed patchy blotches and bumps, it is often mistaken for acne or other skin conditions.
Symptoms are most often visible with the onset of ‘flushing’. When flushing occurs, the skin becomes red and visible blood vessels in the face become more pronounced. As the condition develops, other symptoms such as burning, tightness and stinging sensations, along with puss filled bumps are likely to appear. In some cases, it can even affect the eyelids, causing them to become red, dry, irritated and swollen. Although the cause of rosacea is undetermined, many researchers believe it may be a result of both the environment and hereditary factors. Hence, the occurrence of rosacea can be attributed to both internal and external conditions. Being a relapsing condition, flare-ups have the tendency to come and go in cycles- meaning that you can experience the symptoms for a few days, weeks or months at a time, and then you’ll be fine for an undetermined time until they reappear again. Although rosacea cannot be cured, it can be controlled with treatment. (2)
How does red light therapy help Rosacea?
Red light therapy has become increasing popular because of its ability to control and help maintain the symptoms of rosacea. During LLLT treatments, a red light applied to the facial area is penetrated into the skin to a depth of about 8 to 10 mm. The recommended wavelength between 620nm-700nm is emitted from the red light then absorbed into the mitochondria in cells creating energy to increase blood flow/circulation and bring more oxygen and nutrients to skin tissue in the face. Red light therapy for the treatment of rosacea also accelerates the cells’ ability to generate collagen- so its mechanism ‘kick starts’ the natural healing process upon application. Continual treatments of red light therapy can clear rosacea occurrences by either minimizing or completely eliminating symptoms without causing irritation or any other unwanted side effects (3).
Benefits of using red light therapy for Rosacea
Research studies show that using LLLT for the treatment of Rosacea is highly effective. It can sooth, rejuvenate, and in some cases, even reverse the symptoms. Treatments can be applied by a dermatologist, at a spa or even at a tanning salon; with many rosacea sufferers feeling a difference within 24 hours of their first session. There also a variety of red light therapy devices you can purchase for home use that will provide you with the same results.
- Reduction in redness, flushing, and broken capillaries
- Brings an increase flow of blood and nutrients to the affected area
- Faster healing of red-inflamed patchy blotches pimples and bumps
- Reduces inflammation, swelling and tightness
- Relieves burning and itching sensations associated with Rosacea ‘outbreaks’
- Accelerates the healing of skin for faster results
- Aids in the prevention of Rosacea symptoms worsening
- Drug-free treatment with no adverse side effects
- 100% safe, non-evasive and natural
- Simple and easy to administer treatments at home
Is Red Light Therapy safe?
Red light therapy has proven to be a safe, natural alternative method to treat patients who suffer from the symptoms of Rosacea. To date, medical evidence supports that there have been no adverse side effects reported from the use of LLLT for Rosacea. However, it is always recommended you consult with your doctor or dermatologist prior to administering home treatments yourself. Some patients might see a temporary redness and swelling, or feel itching at the treated site, but it generally lasts only a few days. Goggles should always be worn as a precautionary measure to protect your eyes during the process.
When will I see results?
Generally speaking, the time it takes to see results will depend on the individual. The way a person’s skin reacts to red light therapy, as well as the severity of symptoms will be determining factors. Often times, patients feel immediate relief of pain, itching, redness and inflammation, and yet for others, it can take much longer to see noticeable results.
On the average you should see results in two weeks. However, treatment must be consistent –at least once a day or every other day for about 3-5 minutes per area. Sessions can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 20 at a dermatologists office, spa, tanning salon or giving yourself a home treatment (depending on the device you choose). Patients’ report after 4 weeks of continuous sessions they have noticed considerable improvement in their visible rosacea symptoms. Once your rosacea has improved, it will be important to continual weekly treatments to in order to achieve optimal results and prevent your rosacea symptoms from reoccurring.(4)
Of course, the results a person experiences will also depend on your personal skin care regimen, your diet, how hydrated you keep yourself, the amount of sleep you get, your stress levels, exposure to natural sunlight along with the amount of physical exercise you exert in a day. These factors, along with a few others such as exposure to harsh climates (weather) can markedly worsen or improve rosacea symptoms.
(1,2) Rosacea: Overview PubMed.gov 14 August 2014
(3) KIM, WS, and RG Calderhead. “Is Light-Emitting Diode Phototherapy (LED-LLLT) Really Effective?” PubMed.gov, 2011
(4) Your Guide to Light Therapy for Rosacea Treatment - Light Therapy Options L.L.C. 6 October 2017