Rosacea, light and phototherapy

Written by on September 13, 2005 in laser therapy, Metrogel 1% with 7 Comments

Rosacea, light, and phototherapy, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology 2005 May-Jun;4(3):326-9., Melvin Lee, Medical Student, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Chicago, IL, John Koo MD: Professor and Vice Chairman, Department of Dermatology, UCSF Director, UCSF Psoriasis and Skin Treatment Center and Phototherapy Unit, San Francisco, CA

The long-established notion that rosacea is worsened by light is of particular concern in the phototherapy of diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, or vitiligo, which often can be coexistent with rosacea. A literature search was conducted and much evidence was found to challenge this belief that light adversely affects rosacea. In fact, more patients actually improved with sunlight in a more recent published survey. Several other studies have also shown that rosacea patients were similar to control subjects in sun exposure, solar skin damage, and sun sensitivity. Additionally, all clinical trials to date have failed to find a difference between rosacea patients and control subjects when challenged with ultraviolet light. Thus, phototherapy with rosacea may be safer than is commonly believed.


The traditional belief that sunlight exacerbates rosacea must be questioned. Several recent surveys have found no relationship between sun exposure and rosacea and that, in some patients, sunlight may even have a beneficial effect. Furthermore, five different clinical trials to date all have shown no difference in the way ultraviolet light affects rosacea patients and control subjects. These data strongly suggest that ultraviolet exposure per se may not be a problem in rosacea patients after all and that phototherapy in patients with rosacea is safer than commonly believed. However, cautions cannot entirely be discarded when treating these patients. Phototherapy units are known to produce much heat, which in an ingested liquid has been shown to induce flushing in rosacea patients. In addition, no trial has yet been done to directly observe the response on rosacea after ultraviolet light therapy to the face. Further studies such as these are needed in order to ascertain in more detail the effect of light on rosacea.

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

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7 Reader Comments

  1. My husband has just had ALA with PDT . Face is hugely red and a bit swollen. whatkind of cream can i buy to relieve it.

  2. Hi Anne,

    Are you able to try Aloe Vera Gel from the fridge or Califlora/Calendula Gel from the fridge. Both of these ought to help.


  3. willie says:

    My rosacea is much improved in the summer, out in the sun.

  4. Ann says:

    Hello I struggled with Oxytet in Uk and it barely kept it under control. I was advised to stay out of sunlight as it allegedly exacerbated it…so when i moved to Africa i was expecting problems. I stopped taking oxytet and started doxy for anti malaria…however the side effects were too much and i didn’t think they would do any good long term so stopped them.

    The sunlight here is strong and i expose my skin to the sun….and my skin is 100 per cent clear without meds, creams or anything else. In fact everyone comments on the difference when they visit me!

    So I was pleased to come across your peace about sunlight and Rosacea…that said though diet is a definite factor as I travelled overland i eat more ‘western’ foods and with the sun it cleared up considerably but since settling in Nigeria I have changed my diet to African foods only and it is since this has happened that there is no sign of the Rosacea.

  5. erika says:

    my skin gets clear in the summer and goes crazy with rosacea in october until june. conclusion? sunlight is good!!

  6. willie says:

    Try putting straight apple cider vinegar on your face a few days in a row and let it dry. It really clears it up. I only do this now when I see a breakout starting. It does not completely illuminate it but does make it much better.

  7. lexie says:

    my rosacea got better when i used to tan in a bed

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