IPL photofacial burns
Tips & Articles for Your Skin

This Can Happen if You Have IPL Photofacial Burns

While Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) remains one of the top light-based therapy treatments available, there are still certain risks associated with the procedure. Unfortunately, burns are one of the most common complications that most people experience after receiving an IPL treatment, and if you have ever used this technique, then you will likely have been warned of this risk.

While burns are highly common, this does not mean that they cannot be prevented. Generally, if you take the right precautions and your treatment has been properly administered, then you should be free of any burns during and after your IPL. To help lower your fears about this issue, we will be answering some of the most common questions related to IPL burns, including how long it takes for an IPL to heal, the best ways to treat a burn, and much more.

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How Long Does It Take an IPL Burn to Heal?

If you have recently completed an IPL Photofacial, and you have experienced any burns, then this may be a worrisome process. This can be even more troubling when you have used the procedure to remove a skin issue just to find another one. Fortunately, most of the burns that you will experience after an IPL treatment will generally heal on their own and will only require your patience.

However, we still suggest that you speak to your provider or skin therapist the moment that you receive any burns, especially if you still require more sessions. There was likely an issue with the equipment, or the settings of your treatment were too intense for your skin. By letting them know, they can be aware of any issues on their end, which could help stop any further damage.

In much rarer cases, you can also receive a high degree burn from an IPL Photofacial. So, if you feel an extreme amount of pain or the burn is covering a large patch of your skin, then it is likely that this is a second- or third-degree burn. In such cases, we suggest that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How Do You Treat an IPL Burn?

As it is much easier to prevent an issue than to cure it, we suggest that you stay vigilant during all your sessions. If you feel that the light is too hot or your skin is not cooling, then you should tell the practitioner administering the treatment immediately. It is extremely easy to adjust the settings of any IPL machine to deliver a cooler light. Additionally, your practitioner may also take the necessary steps to cool your skin, which should help reduce the harshness of any burn.

Unfortunately, because most IPL burns are first-degree, you may not notice that your skin has been burnt until after you have left the practice. If you feel an extreme amount of pain and suspect a burn, then you should be on the lookout for square-looking, red patches on your skin as this is the most common sign of a burn.

Once you sight any of these patches, you must speak to your provider as soon as possible. Depending on the type of treatment you used the IPL for, they will be able to give you the best steps to treat your burn. However, if you desire further care than what the practice provides, then you may want to visit a licensed medical practitioner, as they will be able to tell you the best treatment that your skin requires to recover.

Aloe treatment

Are IPL Burns Permanent?

If you do not have a high degree burn, then your burn will likely resolve on its own after some light care. So, you should not expect any long-term effects after your burn has healed. However, you must continue to take care of the burn after noticing it and follow any tips or guidance you received from your practice.

Is IPL Supposed to Sting?

While your skin may feel a little bit hot during the procedure, you should not feel any burning or stinging sensation while you are undergoing the treatment. So, this is something that you should look out for to prevent burns. Before your treatment, you should also ask your provider how quickly it should take for your skin to cool down, as this will depend on the issue that you are trying to solve.

We also suggest that you stay on the lookout for any burning smell. Generally, IPL does not produce any scent of burning for most treatments, and this may be a sign of poor equipment. However, if you are using IPL for hair removal, then you may smell burning as the heat acts upon your hair, but to remain on the safe side, we suggest that you still ask your practitioner about the source of the smell.

Can IPL Damage Your Skin?

The risk of an IPL treatment damaging your skin is extremely little, especially when you weigh them against the potential benefits of the procedure, such as treating acne, stretch marks, age spots, rosacea, etc. Generally, the process is extremely gentle because of its non-invasive nature.

However, you should never just jump into an IPL treatment, and we do not recommend the procedure for everybody. For example, we highly suggest that those that have darker skin tones stay away from IPL because it can cause hyperpigmentation and skin discoloration. Before you begin the procedure, make sure that you speak to your practitioner who can then explain all the possible risks of the procedure.

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First Aid Tips

The tips that your medical practitioner provides will depend on the procedure and the type of burns that you receive. However, there are some general guidelines that we recommend to those that have experienced IPL Photofacial burns, including:

  1. Cooling the Skin:

The moment that you notice any burns, then your first course of action should be to cool the skin. While there are various ways to do this, we suggest that you continuously run lukewarm or cool water over the affected area until the pain stops. You can also make a cold compress out of a washcloth and apply it directly over the area.

While you may be tempted to use ice packs or run iced water over your skin, it is highly recommended that you stay away from this when treating IPL burns. Generally, you should not apply ice directly onto your skin and only use ice packs for no longer than 10 minutes if the pain is too severe.

Cooling your skin, the moment you notice any issues is the most important step in treating any burn. How quickly you react to it will impact how long your general healing process will be, so you should take this step seriously. Once the pain has subsided, speak to the provider who administered the treatment about further steps to take.

Ice pack on the leg

      2. Do Not Use Greasy Ointments :

Unless your provider specifically instructs you to, we suggest staying away from applying ointments such as Vaseline the moment that you notice any burns. This is mostly because such ointments can trap the heat on your skin, which will make the burn much worse. Generally, we only recommend using such ointments after your skin has cooled and the healing process has already started.

      3. Stay Away from Popping Blisters:

We understand that it can be a highly irritating process when you undergo a skin treatment just to end up having another issue, such as a burn or bruises. To keep your skin fresh, you may have a strong desire to pop any blisters that may have grown as a result of your burn, but we strongly suggest that you do not do so.

Popping or opening any blisters will leave your skin vulnerable and highly susceptible to infections, which will compound the issues you are already facing, and make the problems much worse. Remember, patience is the most important part of treating any burn, and you should only apply the right treatment, not the easiest.

There are several other first aid tips that you can follow that will help you fight against your burn and shorten your healing time, such as:

  •  Wrap the burn area in a gauze
  •  Using antibiotic cream, if prescribed
  •  Remain vigilant for any signs of infections


Woman in pain

After the Burns Have Healed

Healing your burns is only the halfway point for full recovery, and you must also be wary of any scarring that may occur as a result of the burn. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent your skin from scarring.

Even after your burn has healed, that area will remain sensitive and you should continue to treat it as such. One of the best ways to do so is by using sunscreen to help reduce the level of sun exposure that you face. Generally, we recommend that you stick to products that have an SPF of 30 or higher.

You may also want to consider using topical ointments that are rich in Vitamin C and have high skin growth factors to help with the level of collagen your body produces. This will help to keep your skin vitalized and fresh and reduce any risks of further inflammation and scars.


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