Derma Roller Side Effects and How to Prevent Them

Almost all skin rejuvenation therapies carry a number of potential side effects and it is always a good idea to make sure you are aware of them before proceeding with any treatment. Many people worry about the potential side effects associated with dermarolling, however when used properly, the derma roller should not cause any serious side effects at all. It is a much safer treatment than other procedures such as lasers, peels and surgery.

In this article we discuss the side effects that may occur as a result of using a derma roller, how to prevent or minimise them, and any circumstances when it is not a good idea to use a derma roller.

Common (harmless) derma roller side effects

As long as you use your derma roller properly, the only side effects you would expect to experience are temporary skin reddening lasting a few hours, some dryness and/or mild inflammation and temporary sun sensitivity. We will look at each of these common side effects in more detail:

Skin redness: This is a completely normal reaction to skin needling (looks like mild sunburn) and usually disappears within a few hours. The best way to deal with skin redness is to use the derma roller last thing at night before you go to bed – in most cases the skin will be back to normal by the following morning. If you are using longer needle lengths or rolling more aggressively, some redness may still be visible the next day. If this applies to you and you work Monday to Friday (for example), you could use your derma roller on Friday evening, which will give your skin time to recover before you go back to work on Monday. You can also cover any redness with a tinted moisturiser or mineral makeup.

Dry, rough skin: This is a very common, harmless side effect of derma roller treatment, especially when using longer needle lengths and/or using firm pressure whilst rolling. It will last a few days at most and is nothing to worry about as it is simply the skin renewing itself. A good moisturiser will help.

Inflammation: This may sometimes occur in individuals with sensitive skin, especially when using longer needle lengths and/or using firm pressure whilst rolling, but should resolve itself after a few hours. Because dermarolling can aggravate skin inflammation, it is important not to use a derma roller on inflammatory skin conditions such as Rosacea.Sun sensitivity: Your skin will be more sensitive to the sun for a few days after dermarolling. This is easily managed by avoiding direct sun exposure/sun beds for a few days following a derma roller treatment and by protecting the skin with sunscreen between treatments.

Serious derma roller side effects

Infection: this is potentially the most serious side effect of dermarolling. It is however easily prevented, by making sure you properly clean and disinfect your derma roller after each use, to remove bacteria that could potentially cause an infection. For more information, read our article: How to Clean Your Derma Roller.

Less common derma roller side effects

Most of these are caused by misuse of the derma roller (and so are easily avoided) but may also occur if your skin is sensitive.

Pain whilst using the derma roller: Dermarolling is never completely painless unless using short needle lengths (0.25mm, 0.5mm), but most people find it tolerable. How painful you find it will depend on a number of factors, such as the amount of pressure applied, needle length, skin sensitivity and individual pain tolerance. If you find derma roller treatment painful you can use numbing cream or ice.

Bleeding: Temporary bleeding can occur when rolling aggressively when using longer needle lengths. This is not cause for concern however, as any bleeding will stop after treatment and blood spots should simply wash away. To prevent bleeding when dermarolling, Apply less pressure.

Bruising: Using long needles on thin skin or rolling too aggressively can cause temporary bruising. You can avoid this by making sure you select the correct needle length for the area of skin to be treated, and using moderate pressure only.

Scratched skin or visible pinpricks: Again, this is usually caused by being too aggressive with the derma roller, i.e. applying a lot of force, dragging the derma roller across your skin and/or rolling the same area repeatedly without lifting the derma roller after each roll. When using a derma roller you only need to apply enough pressure to allow the needles to penetrate the skin to their full length. You should also lift the derma roller after each roll to ensure that the needles create new micro-channels in the skin rather than going over the same ones repeatedly. Refer to our instructions page for more details.

Skin Irritation: Individuals with hypersensitive skin can in rare cases experience itching and/or skin rash with raised bumps or hives following derma roller treatment. Although this is uncommon and usually clears up of its own accord, it is best to consult a doctor if this occurs and/or stop using the derma roller.

Skin irritation caused by other products: Most side effects of dermarolling are not actually caused by the derma roller itself, but rather by the application of inappropriate products to the skin immediately after treatment. Dermarolling greatly enhances the absorption of skin products into the skin, therefore if any skin care product causes side effects, the derma roller can magnify them. Be especially careful with products containing Hydroquinine, Minoxidil or acid (e.g. acid peels). Always proceed with caution the first time you use a product straight after dermarolling – you can increase the amount used next time as long as you don’t experience any problems.

Acne/spots: Using the derma roller on active acne is not recommended because it can spread the bacteria around your face, making acne worse. If you have acne and you want to try dermarollling use a derma stamp instead, avoiding any areas with active acne.

Temporary hyperpigmentation: This occasionally can occur in dark skinned individuals and is usually caused by exposing the skin to the sun too soon after dermarolling. It is easily prevented by avoiding direct sun exposure/sun beds for a few days following a derma roller treatment and by protecting the skin with sunscreen between treatments.

Scars looking worse before they look better: Although not really a side effect it is worth mentioning here. This effect is common when rolling icepick scars because they start out deep and narrow. Dermarolling causes their walls to collapse which makes them shallower but wider (which can make them look worse). It is important not to give up at this point; continued derma roller treatments will cause them to fill in gradually.

Side effects caused by poor quality derma rollers: There are lots of poor quality derma rollers around – some with needles made from cheap, non-medical grade stainless steel/titanium alloy, some that haven’t been pre-sterilised, some with bent or loose needles, and some with knives instead of needles. These factors can cause a multitude of unwanted side effects and so it is best to buy your derma roller from a reputable online store or shop. We do not recommend buying cheap derma rollers from Ebay or Amazon as many of them will have one or more of the issues just mentioned.

When you should not use a derma roller

There are a number of existing skin conditions or illnesses that can cause more serious side effects when using a derma roller. Therefore, it is recommended that you avoid using a derma roller (or derma stamp) without medical supervision if you have any of the following conditions affecting the area to be treated:

Abnormal skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, severe solar keratosis, skin cancer (either melanoma or non-melanoma), raised moles or warts, herpes, blood clotting problems, poor skin healing, active skin infections or inflammations, open cuts and wounds, sore or tender areas, scars that are not fully healed or sunburn.

If you are on any medication then it is a good idea to consult a doctor before commencing derma roller treatment. The derma roller should not be used with certain medications, including accutane, blood pressure medications or medicines causing photosensitivity.

If you are undergoing cosmetic procedures, including laser therapy, chemical peels, botox, filler injections or cosmetics surgery, then you should wait until your skin has fully recovered before starting derma roller treatment.

Never use a derma roller on the upper eyelids or above the cheekbones as this can cause injury to your eyes.

Is derma roller safe to use during pregnancy? Yes, the derma roller is completely safe to use during pregnancy. However, you are advised to check with a doctor before using any skin care products (serums etc) with the derma roller, due to the increased absorption of skin products into the skin, which could potentially enter the bloodstream.

Keloid scars: The derma roller can be used safely on all types of scars, except keloid scars. Keloid scars are overgrown scars that spread outside the original area of skin damage, due to an overproduction of collagen. Keloid scars can affect anyone, but some people are more likely to get them, such as people with dark skin. Dermarolling can improve keloid scars in some cases, but it also has the potential to make them worse by triggering further collagen growth. If you decide to try and treat a keloid scar with a derma roller, roll a very small part of the scar to start with and wait several weeks to see how it reacts

Remember if you have any concerns about your skin’s health, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor.

One of the best things about using a derma roller for skin rejuvenation is that it does not damage the skin like other treatments such as peels and lasers, but produces effects that are just as impressive. As long as you follow the instructions on how to use a derma roller at home and make sure you sterilise your derma roller properly after each use, you should not experience any serious side effects at all. So order your derma roller from our shop and start fixing your skin now!