Treating Rosacea with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Written by on October 5, 2005 in IPL, laser therapy with 10 Comments

A good placeholder article that gives a nice introduction into the applicability of IPL to treating rosacea. Over time more papers are being published that show that for many, IPL is a good option for rosacea. See the end of the post for more pointers to further up-to-date information.

Treatment of rosacea with intense pulsed light., Journal of Drugs in Dermatology 2003 Jun;2(3):254-9.

Rosacea is a chronic disease that affects millions of men and women. Topical and oral antibiotics are effective, yet often leave individuals with treatment plateau associated erythema and persistent flushing.

We investigated the use of intense pulsed light fortreatment of the redness, flushing, and breakouts associated with rosacea.

Thirty-two consecutive patients of Fitzpatrick skin types I-III underwent 1 to 7 treatments with intense pulsed light.

Patients were assessed clinically and photographically. In addition, patients completed a detailed questionnaire regarding heir response to treatment.

Following treatment, eighty-three percent of patients had reduced redness, 75% noted reduced flushing and improved skin texture, and 64% noted fewer acneiform breakouts. Complications were minimal and transitory.

It appears that intense pulsed light is an effective treatment for the signs and symptoms of rosacea and represents a new category of therapeutic options for the rosacea patient.

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

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10 Reader Comments

  1. C P says:



  2. Texas Rosacea Sufferer says:

    I had 5 IPL treatments at a cost of $2,500. I saw no improvement in the redness. The dr saw me this week and used the YAG laser on specific visible blood vessels and I will see over the next month (as my body absorbs those blood vessels) what improvement I get.

    I’m a 47 year old female with some seb derm as well as Rosacea. I don’t get flares anymore, maybe because I use a glycolic acid cleanser. Glycolic acid peels are known to help rosacea so I decided to try the Aqua Glycolic brand cleanser as it is very reasonably priced -about $14, though my pharmacy has to order it as they don’t keep it in stock.

  3. Valerie says:

    I am a 28 year old female. I developed rosacea when I was 25. Last year I went thru 6 IPL treatments and 4 Vbeam laser treatments costing me over $3,000. I have also tried oral antibiotics and topical treatments and haven’s seen any improvement in the condition. I am still waiting for something to work 🙁

  4. Doug says:

    I am experiencing the following and think its Rosacea but my Dermatologist thinks its due to sun damage and something irritated my skin.

    I am a 42 year old white male. 2 months ago i started getting warm/burning sensations on my face and neck. Also, my face started to look more red. I remember walking thru Loews lights section and thought my face was going to burn off. I could really “feel” the lights on my face and it burned like crazy.

    I went to see my Primary Care doctor and he said I probably came in contact with something my skin did not like so he put me on Prednisone (20mg) for 7 days and use Cortaid on my face. I did not see any improvement and went to see a dermatologist. He thought it was contact dermatitis even though my skin never itched. He thought dermatitis because I was having my kitchen remodeled and there was lots of dust, etc in the house. He continued with the Prednisone (30mg for 4 days, 20mg for 4 days, 10mg for 4 days) and I continued using Cortaid on my face. I also changed hair and skin products for sensitive skin. I went back to the dermatologist and he now said it was due to sun damage as my skin was thinning and I was getting those thin red lines on my face. My thinking was just out of the blue my face starts getting red and burning and its due to sun damage. He said something probably irritated my skin which led to the redness, etc. He said the burning should get better within 2 months and the redness might get better.

    Current Status:
    Every morning I wake up my skin is white and not red. Like it used to be. I shower and get ready for work and my skin is still white. I drive to parking ramp and walk about 10 minutes to work (inside, not outside). I get a little warm from the walk but my skin is pretty much white still with a hint or redness. I sit at a desk most of the day and am on a computer. Usually within an hour or 2 my face and neck will get red all over except on neck under chin. It is a pinkish/red color. I sit under a florescent light and at times can feel the light on my face and sometimes the light seems brighter. My face will feel warming/burning sensation at times and not always in the same area. It stays that way until I get home around 7 oclock at night. My skin will get mostly white again but can get red at times. Seems to get red when i am sitting for some reason. Also, I have noticed when I smile my forehead, cheeks (only half of cheek by nose), nose, under nose and chin get red. It can go back to white once I am done smiling. Also, I had a few beers the other night and my face, neck and ears got real red and somewhat warm. My ears and hands will get red and hot at times too. Not always both ears. I am also getting more thin red lines on my face and I have noticed more lines/wrinkles as well. I do not get acne but i have gotten a few pimple like bumps only in temple area. I did have some acne on nose but that has pretty much gone away. And I dont have the intense warming/burning sensations as much or they are not as intense.

    Both my doctor and the dermatologist said it was not Rosacea but I feel I have a lot of Rosacea symptoms.

    After reading my lengthy post do you think it could be Rosacea? I am wondering as well if I used the Cortaid for too long as I have read it is not good for your face. I used it for about 4-5 weeks 2x a day. I have read overuse of these topical steroids can cause thinning of the skin, those thin red lines and redness. Could this be what is happening as well? If so, is an antibiotic good to treat this? The dermatologist said it could take another 2-3 months for face to fully heal or see improvements. Is this true? My skin does look a little better from a texture standpoint than it did when i first had these symptoms. My dermatologist said my skin looks 40-50% better than when I first went to see him.

    Any thoughts, suggestions, etc would be very much welcomed.


  5. Valerie says:

    Hey Doug, it’s Valerie! I was just reading what you wrote and i get the same red burning in my ears and hands. And also my nose. Sometimes both my ears and nose will get red and burn or sometimes just one ear. It’s the weirdest thing. And sitting makes my face more red too!

  6. lenny says:

    hey Doug,

    how you doing? I really relate to your post the bit about you look red if you smile. I have this excat thing over my forehead, cheecks and nose. I hate it. At first i thought i was a blusher with many people making comments and have had so many treatments. In have even had ETS which was a very silly thing to do. My redness is even worse when i laugh. If i am exposed to a reasonable hot temperature or booze it is a millions time worse. As far as i am aware this is rosacea. According to a very respected skin specialist any redness of the skin is considered as rosacea! I your skin bad after a shower when you laugh or smile? Thanks Lenny

  7. Doug says:

    HI Lenny,

    I am doing ok.. I have good and bad days when it comes to flushing and redness. I was away for a 3-day weekend and I played golf, etc and was out in the sun and my skin looked good. Not much redness at all.. even drank some alcohol. i thought I would be beat red. I was so stress-free all weekend so I think stress, anxiety play a role for me as far as redness is concerned. I think allergies might play a role but my allergist who I am beginning to think is not so good says im not allergic to anything since we tested for all the main triggers. But my nose and chest get congested at times after eating certain things… And right now at the computer i am getting all stuffed up.. To me that says allergies! So I might have the blood test done for allergies and see what that says.. It can point me in the right direction.


  8. Jake S says:

    For those of you out there that are reading this and know how to treat blushing/flushing using or IPL or have successfully rid themselves of blushing using IPL or Nd:Yag i would appreciate if you could answer a few questions i have, because i am having trouble finding the right info on the web. To cut a long story short i have mild/moderate rosacea and have had 4 treatments with the Lumenis IPL and have noticed and 80% improvement in permanent redness but the blushing and flushing still remains (although it has decreased by about 10%). So my questions are:

    1. What are the best and most effective filters and IPL settings that completely destroy superficial, medium depth and DEEP vessels??

    2. Is the triple-pass technique the best way to be treated??

    3. What are the vessels that cause blushing? Is it the deepest vessels?

    4. How do you get the deep vessels (blushing and flushing vessels) to pre-flush?

    5. What is the best machine for blushing, IPL Lumenis or Nd:Yag 1064 or other?

    6. How do you get the superficial vessels to pre-flush?

    I would greatly appreciate it if anyone could answer all or any of these questions or give me some more info.


    • Brandon says:

      Hey Jake, this is way late, but I’m going though the same thing you were in 2010. Did you ever find answers to your questions? I have flushing type and I’m trying to understand if you must be flushing during IPL treatment or if it matters. I’ve been told both ways and it seems nobody I’ve talked to knows definitely. What seems to work best for you?


  9. Valerie says:

    Hi Jake! I have had 6 IPL treatments and saw small improvement. Then the following year I had 6 V-Beam laser treatments, which cause bruising and swelling, very painful. It seemed to help but now my skin is really red and very sensitive to my triggers. The level/setting of treatments is different for everyone, but if you can’t controll your flare ups the redness comes right back. Laser treatements are not permanent results….


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