White Pimple-like Blisters After IPL

My goal is to get rid of red bumps due to Rosacea. After my first IPL treatment, my face was really red and swollen. After 24 hours, on top of the red and swollen area, small white blisters that look like pimples appeared. The esthetian said she set the duration pulse low since it was my first time. I don't know why I have these whitish pimple-like blisters looking. Are these normal, and should I continue with my treatments? Please help!

Doctor Answers 5

Light and laser treatments sometimes cause herpes outbreaks.

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If the white bumps are collected in a particular area, it is possible this is a herpetic outbreak stimulated by the treatment. I recommend getting a viral culture and if positive, treat for herpes. This is not dangerous if treated properly, and will be helpful to be aware of so that you can request preventive medication to take before a future laser or IPL treatment.

If the bumps are more spread out, there may be another cause, such as a bacterial infection.

Most likely, however, this is your rosacea/acne pustules being exposed to the surface, and hopefully they will heal nicely, and allow you to return for a second treatment. Make sure to see a board-certified dermatologist to evaluate what happened, before seeing the esthetician for a second treatment.

New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

IPL for Acne Rosacea

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The blisters you are describing - if they are very small - may be pustules associated with acne Rosacea. Have you been diagnosed with Rosacea or Acne Rosacea? If they are in fact associated with Acne Rosacea, we would highly recommend switching to pulsed dye laser treatments instead of IPL. The IPL treatments may have caused a bit of irritation which may have triggered the acne Rosacea outbreak, but it is difficult to say without seeing what they look like up close.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Side effects of IPL

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After IPL treament, we expect and we want to see some redness. However, this usually goes away after 1-2 days. We also expect to see a darkening of any brown spots or freckles. I'm not sure what exactly is going on with the little white bumps that you describe. People with a history of herpes cold sores can get a flare-up after laser treatment which could potentially spread if not treated. I recommend that you see a dermatologist right away.

Jordana S. Gilman, MD
Washington Dermatologic Surgeon

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IPL treatment

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Redness after IPL can last a few hours, but usually dissipates after that.  Small pimples can be burns or even viral infections. You should follow up closely with your doctor.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Talk to the treating physician

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It is unusual for redness and swelling to persist for a long time (longer than a couple of hours) after an IPL treatment. I am not sure what the white blisters are, but you might want to make sure you did not get a burn, or a viral infection outbreak.

Talk to the physician in charge of your treatment.

Stella Desyatnikova, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.