Important: I am not a doctor of any kind and what follows is not medical advice. If you are suffering from rosacea, please consult your doctor, dermatologist, naturopathic physician or functional medical practitioner to help with symptoms and identify triggers.
There are now 4 colors of light rosacea patients are using for their symptoms. If I remember my math correctly, that makes 16-24 possible different ways to use those colors in your treatment. Clearly, you’re not going to want to have to use the trial-and-error method 24 times before you get it right.
Here’s how many rosacea patients typically get started in choosing the best light for them, and how they may add additional colors over time.
Start with red.
If you have burning, itching, tightness (subtype 1: erythematotelangiectatic rosacea) or acne-like symptoms (subtype 2: papulopustular rosacea), starting red light is a great starting point.
When to start with a combination of red and amber.
If you have some of those symptoms AND permanent redness or broken capillaries, you can start with a combination of red and amber light. It doesn’t matter if the lights are separate or combined.
Why green and blue aren’t a great place to start for rosacea.
Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition, among other things. Regardless of the cause or triggers, the symptoms (pain, stinging, redness, itching, eruptions, etc) are the result of inflammation. Red light is the color that treats inflammation. There are now decades of research behind red light therapy, clearly demonstrating and supporting its effectiveness for reducing inflammation and healing skin.
Amber light is very closely related to red light. It affects the skin in the exact same way, only it doesn’t penetrate as deeply, so it has its effects closer to the surface of the skin.
Red light is the cornerstone of light therapy for rosacea. Amber is a secondary choice when there is constant redness and broken capillaries visible on the surface of the skin.
Green light, on the other hand, has been helpful for some rosacea suffers, but it has a small fraction of the proven benefits of red light for skin conditions. I am not saying it doesn’t work or that you shouldn’t try it. I am only saying that there are better options to try first. Green can wait.
Blue light kills bad bacteria and reduces oversized sebaceous glands in the skin. Rosacea is not caused by acne bacteria. In my 15 years of experience in light therapy for skin conditions, I have heard more often that blue light, specifically 415 nm blue light, made rosacea symptoms worse than made them any better. In fact, I hear this feedback on a regular basis. Over the years, I have received many returns and have processed many refunds because people bought an acne light (415 nm blue) for rosacea, and it made it worse instead of better. Treating rosacea in the same way as acne is a common treatment mistake.
It’s true, some people are finding that blue light is helping them. That said, more often than not, it is a different blue light than the one meant for acne sufferers. If you feel that blue light is the right choice for your rosacea symptoms, you may find greater success if you pick a blue light with a longer wavelength like 450-470 nm. The product should contain zero UV so it will be less harsh on sensitive skin.
Important note: Do not overuse the light. Light therapy is not a “more is better” form of treatment.
When and how to add amber, green or blue light to a rosacea treatment routine.
When to add amber.
Let’s say you have been using red consistently for 4 weeks and now you want to add amber. Here’s how you can do it.
Option #1. Quit red and just use amber for 4 weeks.
To find out exactly what the difference is between red and amber for you, you can quit using red and use only amber for 4 weeks. That will give you the most direct information about what each light is doing what for you.
Option #2. Alternate between red and amber.
If you are using red light therapy once daily, then to add amber you would simply start using the red light one day, then the amber light the next day.
If you want to increase your treatments to twice daily, then you would use red light in the morning and amber light at night.
If you want to use them both at the same time, then you would use them each for half the recommended treatment time. Together, this will make a complete treatment. If you used both lights for the full length of time, you would be doubling the recommended total treatment time.
Doubling recommended treatment times can lead to less effective or ineffective treatments. Therefore, it should be avoided.
So, for example, let’s say you already have a red light that you are using for 3 minutes per area. Now you have an amber light and you want to use it, too, but you only have opportunity to do your treatments once per day. In this case you would use the red light for 1.5 minutes per area, and the amber light for 1.5 minutes per area. This avoids doubling the dose as the total treatment time with the two lights is 3 minutes.
When to add green or blue and how.
After you have used red light or combination red/amber light daily for at least 4 weeks, then you can add green or blue if you want to see what they will do for your skin.
In this case you can simply add the new color to your regimen. It is okay to use green or blue immediately after red or amber, and for the full recommended treatment time. It is best to use red and/or amber first, and then the green or blue.
Don’t add both green and blue at the same time, because you won’t know which color is having what effect. Use one of the colors for at least four weeks so you can understand what it is doing for your skin before you decide to add another one.
As I said, I have almost 20 years experience in helping people use light therapy to treat various skin conditions. Rosacea has been the most challenging of them all. Everyone experiences rosacea differently. Everybody’s skin type is different, everybody’s symptoms are different, everybody’s triggers are different, and there are 4 different colors of light – and several potential color combinations – from which to choose.
Light therapy for rosacea can be very effective and I know you are eager for relief. But it is best to take a slow (I’m sorry) and methodical approach to using light therapy as treatment. That is how you are going to find out if light therapy is going to work for you or not and exactly which color or combination of colors is going to work best for your unique situation.