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Facial redness: what are the options?

If you suffer from flushing, blushing or rosacea, our experts have the treatment intel to help you control this common condition

Facial redness can be a downright nuisance to deal with and at times, almost impossible to reduce. Although there’s nothing to be ashamed of—redness is actually fairly common, with 1 in 20 people experiencing rosacea in the UK alone—it’s not uncommon to want to keep it at a minimum.

The great news is that there are plenty of treatments that help tackle facial redness. Having said that, it can be confusing deciphering which may or may not be right for you. That’s why we asked two experts to reveal the treatments they deem to be excellent, good and fair at reducing redness.

Laser (excellent) 

Starting with the only excellent option in the list: laser. “This is my treatment of choice for redness,” says Ridah Syed, Senior Medical Aesthetician at Skinfluencer, London. EV Expert Dr Emmaline Ashley echoes this: “Laser and light therapy is one of the most effective treatments for targeting facial redness, especially when caused by visible blood vessels or rosacea.”

There are a few different types of laser and light therapy treatments to try. “Pulsed dye laser or intense pulsed light, targets the haemoglobin in blood vessels, reducing their appearance on the skin's surface,” explains Dr Ashley, noting that this type of treatment can provide significant and immediate improvements in redness.  

Although most people see a marked improvement, it’s important to note that although treated blood vessels don’t reappear, new ones can, which may require further treatment.

LED (good) 

LED came out as a firm favourite, which Ridah Syed notes as a good treatment choice for those who cannot or do not want to use lasers. LED (which stands for light emitting diode) therapy uses different wavelengths of light to target various skin concerns. “For redness, wavelengths in the blue and green spectrum are often used for their calming and anti-inflammatory effects,” explains Dr Ashley. “This therapy can reduce inflammation and promote healing, making it a suitable non-invasive option for managing chronic redness and rosacea.”  

The one downside is that regular in-clinic treatments are required to see a real improvement. There are some excellent at-home LED masks out there, though Ridah Syed notes that these are far less powerful than their in-clinic counterparts. However, it’s a good option if you aren’t able to visit a clinic and don’t mind putting the effort in to see results.

Therapeutic ultrasound (good) 

Dual-frequency ultrasound (DFU) is next up, which, according to Ridah, is showing promise in improving inflammatory skin disorders like rosacea. A 2021 study conducted on 26 subjects with facial erythema received an ultrasound treatment once per week, for four weeks, over both cheeks.

“The study found that DFU resulted in a significant decrease in erythema index (the measure of how red the skin is due to inflammation causes), concluding that DFU may be an additional treatment option for rosacea that is resistant to other treatments,” she adds.

Radio frequency (fair) 

Onto the options regarded as ‘fair’ among our experts, starting with radio frequency (RF). “Radio frequency treatments use energy waves to heat the deep layers of the skin, stimulating collagen production and improving overall skin texture and tone,” Dr Ashley explains. Although this does benefit facial redness, our experts noted that this is an indirect benefit, so radio frequency wouldn’t be considered a direct treatment for redness.

Botulinum toxin (fair) 

We all know botulinum toxin as the go-to for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, but it can actually reduce facial flushing when placed intra dermally. However, sadly there’s a caveat. “It can lead to pale patches on the skin in situations like exercise and sweating, making its placement obvious,” explains Dr Ashley. For that reason, botulinum toxin isn’t considered a first-line treatment when it comes to tackling facial redness.

Polynucleotides (fair) 

Polynucleotides are one of the most talked-about treatments out there right now. “It may be a potential treatment for facial redness, owing to their unique ability to stimulate skin regeneration and repair,” explains Dr Ashley.

There are a couple of reasons why polynucleotides might improve redness. Firstly is their ability to improve hydration and elasticity, subsequently strengthening the skin’s barrier function through its naturally-occurring structures. In addition to this, Dr Ashley notes that the treatment has anti-inflammatory properties, which may target underlying causes of redness. Because of this, she notes that they’re a fair option for long-term management of redness.  

Hyaluronic acid injections (fair) 

Lastly, hyaluronic acid injections of skin boosters such as Profhilo can benefit redness in a similar way to polynucleotides by strengthening the skin barrier, Dr Ashley explains. “Hyaluronic acid improves skin hydration (which is often compromised in redness-prone skin), so an enhanced skin barrier function helps in reducing sensitivity and susceptibility to irritants that cause redness,” she adds.

It’s important to note that not all treatments are suitable for everyone’s symptoms and circumstances. A qualified and accredited practitioner can advise on the best treatment plan tailored to your individual needs.  

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