Can Photofacial Cause Outbreak of Shingles?

Recentl,y I had a demonstration of a "skin tightening" treatment with Elos technology. A few days later, I started using Tanda light therapy (660nm red LED light). A week later, I had a mild outbreak of shingles on my forehead and also in my eye. They were treated with anti-viral eyedrops and healed well. The shingles, however, left me with three pock marks on my forehead.

Could either the Tanda or the Elos have triggered the shingles? I've been under no stress and have not been otherwise ill. I am considering a Photofacial, but am concerned that it may trigger another outbreak.

Doctor Answers 1

It is rare, but possible.

Thank you for your question.

In the laser field, we worry about HSV (cold sores) reactivation with laser resurfacing procedures, specifically when the skin barrier is broken. However, any physical or emotional stress can transiently depress the immune system and cause an outbreak of HSV, or even VZV (zoster, shingles).

It is possible that the procedure did cause a slight physical stress on your body and thus triggered the shingles. Or, this may be simply coincidental timing and the procedure had nothing to do with it. Keep in mind that many younger people do get shingle reactivation and swear to not having any trigerring physical or emotional stress. So, while laser procedures are amongst one of the most performed cosmetic procedures with a very low (practically nonexistant) rate of shingles reactivation, it is possible, but simply rare.

I hope this helps.

Beverly Hills Dermatologist
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