Proof that LEDs dampen down rosacea

Written by on March 31, 2017 in LED Therapy with 15 Comments

Some more research investigating and proving that LEDs and Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) are good options for treating rosacea symptoms. Researchers from South Korea trialed a range of LED wavelengths from 410 nm to 940 nm and fluences ranging from 1-40 J/cm2, and measured how their usage leads to a reduction in markers that are thought to be important in rosacea.

What LEDs Colors Work Best?

This study found that LEDs in the wavelengths 630±8 nm and 940±10 nm were able to significantly alter the myriad of inflammatory markers indicated in the progression of rosacea.

For a wavelength of 630 nm, LEDs will be visible to the eye as this corresponds to the red part of the visible spectrum.

940 nm, on the other hand is getting in to the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, so may not be visible to the eye. This part of the spectrum is typically used by remote control devices, such as a TV remote.

Article Abstract

Light-emitting diodes downregulate cathelicidin, kallikrein and toll-like receptor 2 expressions in keratinocytes and rosacea-like mouse skin

Jee-Bum­Lee, Soo­Hyeon­Bae, Ki­Rang­Moon, Eui­Young­Na, Sook­Jung­Yun, Seung-Chul­Lee

Department of Dermatology, Chonnam National University Medical School, Gwangju, South Korea

Cathelicidin (LL-37), Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR-2) and kallikreins (KLKs) are key inflammatory mediators in rosacea.

Laser or light-based devices have been successfully used for rosacea. We investigated the effects of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) on LL-37, KLKs, TLR-2 and protease activity in cultured normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs) and rosacea-like mouse skin (RLMS).

LL-37, KLK5, KLK7 and vitamin D receptor were induced by 1α, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (VD3) and TLR-2 by Ad-CMV transfection in cultured NHEKs. NHEKs were subjected to LED irradiation at differing wavelengths (480–940 nm) and fluences (1–40 J/cm2).

Inflammatory mediators were analysed with RT-PCR and real-time PCR and protease activity analysis and immuno-cytofluorescence staining were performed for NHEKs. Changes in RLMS induced by LL-37 peptide were evaluated with real-time PCR, immunohistochemical staining and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.

In NHEKs, LEDs at 630 and 940 nm significantly attenuated LL37, KLK5 and TLR-2 mRNA expressions. Protease activity was significantly suppressed at 630, 850 and 940 nm.

In the RLMS, LL-37, KLK5 and PAR-2 mRNA expressions significantly decreased at 24 and 48 hours after LED irradiation was performed three times at 630 and 940 nm.

mCAMP and IL-8 protein levels and protease activity after LED irradiation were lower than those in RLMS control groups. LED at 630 and 940 nm downregulated TLR-2, KLK5 and LL-37 expressions and pro- tease activity in NHEK and RLMS.

Thus, LEDs may be promising for rosacea treatment. However, clinical trials are required for further study.

Study Results

This study demonstrated that specific LED light irradiation down regulates cathelicidin, KLK5, KLK7 and TLR-2 expressions and protease activity, which are the main components in the pathogenesis of rosacea, both in vitro and in vivo. In our study, specific LED light with wave lengths of 630±8 and 940±10 nm (visible and near infrared, respectively) significantly suppressed the levels of cathelicidin, KLK5, KLK7 and TLR-2.

In this study, it was demonstrated that irradiation with specific LEDs with wavelengths of 630±8 and 940±10 nm out of LED with various wavelengths down regulated the expressions of TLR-2, KLKs, cathelicidin and the activity of protease – all of which are key factors well known to be involved in rosacea pathogenesis on the basis of in vitro and in vivo experiments.

Therefore, LEDs with specific wavelengths might be a promising tool for relieving the symptoms of rosacea, even though clinical trials for rosacea patients are necessary in the future.


Recently, LLLT using LED was introduced for the treatment of many conditions such as inflammatory skin conditions, wound healing and wrinkles.

Although the mechanism underlying its effect is not fully understood, it is thought to be mediated by photon absorption of mitochondrial chromophores and photoacceptors in the plasma membrane of cells, resulting in alteration of the cellular redox state and the affinity of transcription factors related to cell proliferation, tissue repair and regeneration.

In this study, LLLT with LED downregulated TLR-2 and cathelicidin, an AMP that plays an essential role in the skin barrier.26 Consequentially, it might attenuate inflammation and angiogenesis by modulating the immune response through TLR-2 and cathelicidin.

Red and Infra-Red Results

What success have you had with treating your rosacea with red or infra-red LEDs?

This study should lead to more LED treatment arrays that we can be confident will benefit rosacea symptoms.

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Read more about: LED Therapy

About the Author

About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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15 Reader Comments

  1. Katie says:

    Awesome. I finally splurged and bought an LED red light for my rosacea yesterday and waking up to this article in my inbox makes me feel even better about making that decision. Thank you so much for everything you do on this site, David. You and the people of the rosacea community have really helped me get through these last few months.

    • Rosie says:

      I’ve been debating whether to splurge on an LED light for months. Now maybe I’ll finally take the plunge! Which brand did you buy, Katie?

      • katmacy91 says:

        Hi Rosie, sorry it took me so long to reply! I bought the dual care package from SmarterLights. It comes with LED red and amber lights, which are both said to be effective in dampening down rosacea. I’ll leave a link to it below. Right now it’s on sale for 279.00, and that’s well within my budget. It has a 90 risk free trial and a lifetime warranty. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it out!


  2. holty85 says:

    hey Katmacy91 have you gotten your product yet? Has it worked? I’m 33 and have been suffering from rosacea for 4 years and I’m desperate to find something to help the redness and flushes.

    • katmacy91 says:

      Yes! I got my light in the mail five days ago. You’re supposed to use it up to two times a day for 90 seconds on all three parts of your face until you achieve the results you want. I’ve opted to start by using it twice a day rather than just once. They say you normally need to wait at least a few weeks before you start see results, but…honestly? I’m loving it already. I have some acne rosacea but my main problem is persistent redness. After just a few days of using the light my acne rosacea is starting to fade (I can tell by looking at photos that I took of myself last week) and my cheeks are significantly less red than they were before I started using the light. It may still be too early to tell, but I’ve been absolutely obsessing over my face the last five months (I had a horrible reaction to Mirvaso in November) and up until now I have noticed literally no improvement with anything else I’ve tried. So I’m fairly certain I’m not imagining it. I’ll get back with you in a couple weeks, though, and let you know if I’m still seeing results!

      • holty85 says:

        Katie that’s awesome news!!!! I’m not sure how old you are, I’m 33, and have similar issue with persistent redness, as well as flushing. Mirvaso was total garbage for me too. I tried using it about 2 years ago and it took, literally, months for my face to return to normal. I totally know the feeling of “obsessing” over my face too. It SUCKS for sure. I’m going to buy my light from your link today. Best of luck to you!! Hope it works for us both. Def lmk what happens with yours and I’ll do the same

  3. holty85 says:

    weird, I submitted a reply, but don’t see it ever posted! anyways…That is great news you are already seeing results Katie! I’m not sure how old you are, I’m 33, and have similar rosacea symptoms(Acne plus persistent redness) I have been using the zenmed rosacea trio which helped clear my acne nearly 100% but the redness and flushing still remained. I too had a horrible rxn to Mirvaso. I tried it myself about 2 years ago and turned beet red. It took several months to get back to normal. I also know the feeling of “obsessing” over my face it makes me sick to my stomach sometimes. I just purchased my light and can’t wait to use it!! def keep me updated on your results, and I’ll do the same!

    • katmacy91 says:

      Glad to hear you’re giving it a try too! Hopefully we will both see some improvements in our rosacea with these LED lights. I, unfortunately, am only 25 years old. I’ve had rosacea since I was about 12. It was only on my nose then. It was annoying, but manageable. Seriously, I had no idea how lucky I was. Then about two years ago I started to notice redness on my cheeks too. So my dermatologist gave me this cream that ended up doing nothing. Then, he pulled out the big guns and gave me Mirvaso. HUGE MISTAKE. It’s been 5 months since I used it and I feel like I’m only just beginning to recover. How long did it take you to get back to normal? God, if I could go back in time and punch myself in the face right before I used Mirvaso…I totally would. These last few months have been a disaster. I was seriously considering laser treatment, but decided to exhaust all my possibilities before I resort to that. I’ve had the dual care LED light for almost two weeks now, and as I said, there does appear to be some improvement. Flare ups have been very infrequent and less severe. There are even calm moments where I appear to not have rosacea at all. How have you been faring with your light thus far?

      • holty85 says:

        Hey Katie! My rosacea started when I was about 29. As you are well aware it’s awful to deal with. It took me a solid 2 months before my skin got back to normal after my Mirvaso reaction. As for the LED light I’ve had mine now for about a week and honestly think it’s making things worse. I’ve had acne develop during the same timeline the light has been in use too! I’m super discouraged by the early results of the light. I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet, but I’m not optimistic either. How often do you use it? I’m using it twice daily for 2 minute intervals on all 3 angles of the face.

  4. Alicia.M says:

    Hi, thanks so much for this very informative blog post.You do provide a wealth of information on the subject of Rosacea here which is very valued. I am interested in the idea of LED light for the treatment of Rosacea. I understand that different colour of LED light can help diffferent aspects of Rosacea, yellow and red being the best. I have started to trial use of LED light for the treatment of my Rosacea acne and will be interested to see how it works for me.

  5. holty85 says:

    Hey Katie! My rosacea started when I was about 29. As you are well aware it’s awful to deal with. It took me a solid 2 months before my skin got back to normal after my Mirvaso reaction. As for the LED light I’ve had mine now for about a week and honestly think it’s making things worse. I’ve had acne develop during the same timeline the light has been in use too! I’m super discouraged by the early results of the light. I’m not ready to throw in the towel yet, but I’m not optimistic either. How often do you use it? I’m using it twice daily for 2 minute intervals on all 3 angles of the face.

    • katmacy91 says:

      I would give it a little more time. The light probably didn’t cause the acne. Of course, I’m not a doctor, so I can’t say that for sure, but I would say you should probably give it a couple more weeks. If you don’t see results, then return it. I’m sorry you’re not having much luck with it thus far. I will say that I’ve been having worse acne than usual lately myself. That started after the Mirvaso. It’s starting to calm down now, but having that was depressing too, as I’ve never had acne before this. What facial care products do you use, if you don’t mind me asking?

  6. holty85 says:

    Hey! Yeah I decided to lower my dosage with the light. Instead of doing 2 min on all 3 angles TWICE a day(AM and PM), I’m now only doing it at night for 2 min on all 3 angles. I’ll give that a shot for a week or two and see if it helps.

    As far as products. I’ve been using the zenmed rosacea trio since early march and up until I started using the light my acne had been almost non existent. I hadn’t noticed any massive changes with my flushing or redness from the product. They claim it’s supposed to help with it over time. Could be I haven’t used it long enough yet. I can say for sure it isn’t making my condition any worse and the help it did with my rosacea induced acne made me very happy

    (side note feel free to email me directly if you want so we can keep updated on each other’s progress

  7. holty85 says:

    Hey Katie, curious how your experience with the LED light has gone? I kept mine past the 90 days but havnt yet found it to be too effective. I was willing to just eat the money if it doesn’t work in order to give it longer. I currently only use it at night 2 min for each side so 6 min total.

  8. Comments via facebook post

    “Anyone seen improvement??”

    “I’m using this and seeiing results!”

    “What are you using?”

    “red light”

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