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What medications can help treat rosacea?

Medications to help treat rosacea include topical creams and gels that you put on your skin as well as an oral anti-inflammatory medication.

Mirvaso (brimonidine) topical gel, 0.33%, is the first medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the persistent facial redness of rosacea. Mirvaso is thought to work by constricting dilated facial blood vessels that increase blood flow to the skin and cause the face to look red and flushed. When applied daily, topical Mirvaso works quickly and reduces redness for up to 12 hours. Rash, flushing, a burning sensation and contact dermatitis are the most common side effects of brimonidine. Because Mirvaso is an alpha-2 adrenergic agent, it can lower blood pressure, so people with uncontrolled cardiovascular disease may not be able to use it.

Several other topical medications that are approved to treat rosacea include topical metronidazole and topical azelaic acid. Common side effects of metronidazole include cold symptoms, upper respiratory tract infection and headache. Other topical treatments may include sulfacetamide/sulfur cream or wash, but many find the odor unpleasant.

An oral anti-inflammatory medicine, doxycycline, is FDA approved in a low-dose formulation to treat the bumps and pimples associated with rosacea. This once-daily pill is a convenient alternative to creams and gels and has not been shown to cause bacterial resistance. Common side effects include cold symptoms, sinus infection, diarrhea, high blood pressure and increased liver enzymes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.