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What Light Therapy Is Best for Rosacea?

In this blog post, I answer "what light therapy is best for rosacea" and especially focus on red light therapy options, such as masks and panels. Join

What Light Therapy Is Best for Rosacea?
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Welcome to the rosacea light therapy blog. In this blog, I'll talk about different types of light therapy for rosacea, such as red light therapy for rosacea and other colors.

I consider light therapy at home for rosacea. But first, let's start with the basics:

What is Rosacea?

Tons of research has emerged on rosacea in the last few years (1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10). The science on rosacea is also rapidly evolving.

Even though the condition isn't univerally known or talked about, up to 10% of the human population with a light skin is affected by it. Rosacea is a skin disorder mainly affecting the face. Women are more frequently affected than men.

With rosacea, you'll get redness in the face and swelling. Inflammation is an important component too. The blood vessels are affected and cause the redness - examples are blood vessels visible directly on the face.

Many different treatments currently exist for rosacia, such as medications used on the skin, prescription drugs, skin nutrients such as vitamin A, laser therapy, light therapy, and more. I'll discuss the latter options in more detail soon.

But, no treatment is perfect currently. For that reason, the redness persists and people's quality life is inhibited by rosacea, simply because it's visually unappealing. Self esteem often takes a hit too and people with rosacea may be more prone to get depressed.

Rosacea's issues aren't just visual though. You may get itching, or burning or stinging sensations. The cause of rosacea is currently unkown.

The Different Types Of Rosacea And Its Mysterious Root Cause of Rosacea

A recent review states that:

"There are four clinical subtypes of rosacea based on the predominant signs and symptoms: erythematotelangiectatic, papulopustular, phymatous, and ocular." (3).

Let's break down what that complicated language means in plain English (11; 12; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17):

  • The first type of rosacea, "erythematotelangiectatic", means that both redness and protruding blood vessels that are superficial on the skin are present.
  • "Papulopustular" is more inflammatory. People sometimes confuse papulopustular rosacea with acne.
  • "Phymatous" rosacea, thirdly, includes larger pores and thickening of the skin.
  • "Ocular" rosacea, lastly, is rosacea affecting the eyes.

These types of rosacea can overlap, however. So you can be affected by one or multiple of these.

For instance, about half to three quarters of people have eye involvement in their rosacea - the fourth subtype. Eye involvement or "ocular rosacea" causes all types of eye problems such as dryness, inhibited vision, light sensitivity, pain, and others.

Rosacea may also be interrelated to greater risk of diseases, such as gut problems, heart and blood vessel conditions, and issues with the nervous system. The classification system of rosecea is likely not final, however, as new findings have updated the system in the past.

Current Medical Therapy Options for Rosacea

Rosacea treatment is complicated (18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23). Besides dermatological treatments and prescription medication, lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on rosacea as well. A recent study mentions the following examples:

"The most frequently reported triggers implicated in rosacea include alcohol, spicy food, cinnamaldehyde-containing foods (e.g., tomatoes, citrus fruits, chocolate), hot drinks, and histamine-rich foods (e.g., aged cheese, wine, processed meats). Some food items appear to play a protective role, such as omega-3, which appears to protect against ocular rosacea. The relationship between certain food items and the subtype of rosacea is varied, with inconsistent results shown in the few studies that examined this. As an example, alcohol worsens flushing and fatty food triggers both erythematotelangiectatatic and phymatous rosacea in susceptible individuals." (6)

What all these factors have in common is that they either trigger the gut, immune system, blood flow processes, or histamine (technically part of the immune system). Rosacea is affected in turn with these triggers.

Other strategies involve using a very high Sun Protective Factor (SPF) when going out in the sun, or covering up with long clothes and wearing a hat. The condition and its triggers is somewhat unpredictable though, as many affected people have periods where they are not affected as well as flare-up periods.

And yet, a ton more research is needed for rosacea. Rosacea is a chronic condition right now, simply because there are no universally working long-term solutions.

Can Light Therapy Work for Rosacea?

So, "Can light therapy work for rosacea?" Sure, although, it usually won't fully fix the problem. And, some types of light are problematic for rosacea, such as ultraviolet light (24; 25; 26; 27). So not all light therapy for rosacea is helpful - I'll focus mainly on the red and infrared light and rosacea.

Does Red Light Therapy Work For Rosacea?

There's some evidence that red light therapy for rosacea works (28; 29; 30; 31). Sometimes, the light therapy is combined with medication - in that case it's called "Photo Dynamic Therapy" (PDT) - and there's some evidence for that therapy as well.

A recent review study that aggregrates and integrates previous evidence, shows that redness in the skin as well as the obvious blood vessel pattern on the skin can be minized greatly (28).

Neverthless, the quality of the evidence right now is low to moderate. So a lot more research is needed to confirm these results. However, as the redness and the protruding are two of the main issues with rosacea, these benefits are extremely helpful.

Pulsed dye lasers have a better track record than red light therapy for rosacea, however (28; 29; 31). Due to the risks involved with that treatment, it's only applied by medical professionals currently. Using lasers can be much more dangerous than using LEDs, depending on the parameters.

Nevertheless, a few laser sessions over a time span of several months (with four weeks of rest in between) can make the redness and appearance of rosacea much better. Results also last for a long time, up to several years, so if you've got severe rosacea, I recommend searching for a quality laser clinic for treatment.

Not too many studies using human participants exist regarding red light therapy for rosacea. Nevertheless, red light therapy can affect rosacea through many different mechanisms, potentially:

  • Lowering inflammation, especially given that rosacea is an inflammatory condition and red light therapy is known to have a very strong effect on inflammation.
  • Modulating the immune system by making it less overactive.
  • Enhancing skin appearance, because red light therapy boosts collagen and elastin in the skin. So, despite rosacea, your skin will look better with red light therapy. Potential depression or self-esteem issues may also be aided through taht mechanism.
  • Repairing skin damage and preparing your skin for the sun. Red light therapy can precondition the skin for sunburn, for instance, making the ultraviolet light potentially less volatile on the rosacea.
  • Boosting energy production. More energy production ensures that your body is better able to heal itself. Overall disease risk trends down the more energy is available in your body.

Which Color To Use For Rosacea: Blue, Yellow or Red Light?

Fortuantely, there are several studies on different colors of light therapy on rosacea as well (32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37; 38). None of these studies are carried out with traditional red light therapy devices, however.

Here's the outcome of these studies:

  • A mouse study shows that red and near-infrared light at 630, 850 and 940 nanometers (nm) is helpful for inlammation (32). As you know inflammation plays a role in rosacea.
  • One study used blue light therapy with a gel (33). Here, blue light at 447nm had good effects but it was a study with only one human participant. The gel ought to emit red and green light but the wavelengths couldn't be found in the article.
  • Another study shows that fluorescent blue light works (34). Once more, this is a case study with few participants. 415 and 447nm blue light is used here.
  • Then there's one more study using blue (480nm) and red (650nm) (35). The results in the study are great, but, once again, you'll need a lot more high quality research for more solid conclusions.
  • Then, one more study using a fluorescent material on the skin that emits light (36). The outcome is good but results cannot be generalized towards blue or red light therapy, and participant numbers are low.
  • Next up, a mouse study using yellow (590nm) and near infrared (830nm) light (37). Once more, a good outcome but this research needs to be carried out in humans. The mechanisms found here were inflammation and the immune system, that both improved, making the rosacea better.

Hopefully, you get the point. Far more high-quality research is needed with a high quantity of human participants. But with that information, I can a answer the questions in the next section:

What Color Light Therapy For Rosacea?

There's very limited evidence that different color light therapy for rosacea works - such as green, red, and yellow. Evidence only exists in lower-quality human studies or animal studies.

But, the research does point in the same direction in these studies, towards a positive effect. So there's no harm trying different colors of light for rosacea.

If you're interested in learning more about the best wavelengths for skin health in general, consider the video below:

Here you'll find more information about color therapy for rosacea - with different wavelengths such as blue, green, and red

Blue Light Therapy For Rosacea

Yes, there's some limited evidence taht blue light therapy for rosacea works - I just mentioned these studies in the sections above. The research is of lower quality, however.

Yellow Light Therapy For Rosacea

A single animal study shows that yellow light, together with near infrared light, works for countering rosacea (37). In that study, the immune system and inflammation work better so that the rosacea is less profound.

Once more, we'll need more high-quality studies to confirm these benefits. There's very little risk in trying, however, yellow light therapy for rosacea or blue light.

Red Light Therapy Rosacea Before And After

Fortunately, we also have some anecdotal evidence, so red light therapy before and after, for rosacea. Let's check a few first hand experiences of people:

"Red light therapy can certainly help with flushing and diffuse redness. I don't personally know anything about possible effects on "the appearance of visible blood vessels", but [...] "The evidence seems to suggest the vessels get smaller after treatment" (39).


"It does seem like the lamp is helping your rosacea and as the effects are cumulative [and] should see more improvements over the coming months. The changes can be very subtle and not always apparent to yourself, so try and get someone else's opinion on how you look. My skin is oily also and as far as I know RLT will not make it dry or oily but will certainly make it calmer and improve its overall quality and texture. Red light is renowned for helping prevent wrinkles which most of you girls are paranoid about getting" (40).

So, overall, people seem to have good red light therapy rosacea before and after results.

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy For Rosacea

Yes, as stated before, the intense pulsed light therapy for rosacea has decent backing. But you'll need a medical professional to apply this therapy a few times over the course of several months for the best results.

How To Get Started With Light Therapy At Home For Rosacea?

So generally, you'll want a red light therapy device at home that emits not only red and near-infrared light but also blue or yellow.

I've got three main options here for you. First, there's the Mito Red MitoPRO X series, which not only contains 25% 630nm red, 25% 660nm red, 25% 830nm, and 25% 850nm near-infrared, but also a tiny bit of 590nm amber light:

Then, there's the PlatinumLED BioMax series, which now contains blue light:

The wavelength makeup is a bit different for the PlatinumLED BioMax, as it emits more light in the 660nm and 850nm range, but it also contains the unique 1,060nm wavelength.

And, lastly, if you want lots of blue light, you can get the LightpathLED Diesel series - that Alex Fergus has reviewed below - with lots of extra blue light:

All three options above are wonderful for treating

Best At Home Light Therapy For Rosacea

So what's the best at home red light therapy for rosacea device? These are the:

Alternatively, you could consider a light therapy mask for rosacea but there's a caveat for that option:

Light Therapy Mask For Rosacea

How about a red light therapy mask for rosacea? Well, it's complicated here. I'll have to refer you to some YouTube videos in this case, that consider the pros and cons of red light therapy mask.

First up, consider the red light therapy panel versus mask debate here:

The outcome of that video is that generally, you'll want a red light therapy panel because it's far more versatile than a mask. I would only recommend you get a red light therapy mask for rosacea if you don't plan on treating any other area of your body than your face.

The science behind red light therapy masks is really impressive, though. Check out the video below if you want to learn more about the few mask studies that are out there:

Or, you may want to read my article about the red light therapy mask science that covers a few more studies. For an even more elaborate account, I've also created a blog about red light therapy for skin beauty, which also includes non-mask studies.

Overall though, a red light therapy mask for rosacea can work well but a panel is probably more versatile and can also enhance beauty in non-facial parts of the body.

Conclusion - Does Red Light Therapy Help Rosacea: Very Likely, Yes!

So what light therapy is best for rosacea? Research is currently limited but a combination of red, near-infrared, and some other wavelengths such as blue and/or amber light is probably best.

Make sure to use a low dose, such as up to 8-10 J/cm2, to emphasize skin beauty and not deep tissue treatment!

So does light therapy help rosacea? Absolutely, but more research is needed! The best at home light therapy for rosacea devices are listed below once again!

This is a post by Bart Wolbers. Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MS - with distinction), and Clinical Health Science (MS), has had training in functional medicine, and is currently chief science writer at Lighttherapyinsiders.com

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