What treatment options are available for rosacea?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

There is no cure for rosacea, but certain treatments may help eliminate your symptoms. These treatments typically involve prescription medications and changing a few of your daily habits. Your doctor may prescribe topical gels or ointments like benzoyl peroxide and tretinoin to help reduce the appearance of redness and pimples. These can be used along with oral antibiotics like erythromycin and tetracycline, which can also help reduce inflammation and tend to produce quick results. On top of prescribing medication, your doctor may also advise you to eliminate any factors that exacerbate your rosacea like stress or caffeine, and also to use a milder soap or better moisturizer. When all else fails, it may be necessary to try isotretinoin. This medication is effective, but it is also known to have serious side effects so it is only used to treat the most unrelenting cases of rosacea.

Treatment for rosacea includes avoiding dietary, environmental and emotional triggers known to cause flare-ups, as well as practicing "sun safety" whenever possible -- cover up with sunscreen; wear light-colored, tightly woven protective clothing; and avoid the sun.

This condition also can be managed with topical or oral antibiotics. Metronidazole (Metrogel, Noritate, Metrocream), a topical antibiotic available in cream, lotion or gel form, is often used to treat the condition. Topical sodium sulfacetamide with or without sulfur preparations may be prescribed for rosacea treatment. Topical azeleic acid gel may also be helpful.

If rosacea doesn't respond to these treatments, or if cystic lesions form, tetracycline or other oral antibiotics usually control it. In addition, isotretinoin (Accutane), a powerful oral medication usually prescribed for cystic acne, is sometimes used in cases of severe inflammatory rosacea. Accutane has been linked to a number of side effects, including a possible association with depression or suicide. Discuss these risks with your healthcare professional.

You can reduce the redness of rosacea with make-up foundation that has a green tint or by undergoing laser, intense pulsed light (IPL) or electrosurgery treatment. These destroy the dilated blood vessels which reduces the redness.

There is no cure yet for rosacea, but there are treatments available such as topical retinoids, creams, and oral antibiotics aimed at decreasing redness, inflammation, and acne bumps. Your dermatologist can help you choose the best treatment plan for you given the characteristics of your individual rosacea. If you suspect you could have this condition, don’t try to take care of it on your own. There is not much by way of over-the-counter remedies that really work and, if left untreated, it can progress to the point that large blood vessels and pus-filled pimples appear.

From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.

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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.