Although there is no cure for rosacea, a variety of rosacea treatments are available that will reduce its appearance and prevent further progression. Rosacea can worsen and become more difficult to treat if left untreated.
Treatments for rosacea include oral and topical medications, laser and light (IPL) treatments, and surgical procedures (used mostly for advanced cases). Rosacea treatments are often combined for better results.
Lifestyle changes and a rosacea skin care regimen are also important to reduce the chances of developing rosacea flares.
Your doctor will recommend a rosacea treatment plan based on the following:
- The rosacea subtype(s) you have developed. See treatment options for rosacea subtype 1, rosacea subtype 2, rosacea subtype 3, and rosacea subytpe 4.
- The severity of your rosacea
- Your skin type (light vs. dark, oily vs. dry)
- Results from previous treatments
- Your personal preferences
There are several safe and effective medications for the treatment of rosacea.
Topical medications (applied to the skin) include:
- Metronidazole (MetroGel®). Topical metronidazole reduces the papules and pustules, as well as redness (erythema) of rosacea. Metronidazole may also be prescribed to prevent relapses of rosacea.
- Azelaic acid (Azelex®, Finacea®). Azelaic acid treats redness, bumps and pimples of mild to moderate rosacea.
- Other topical rosacea medications include clindamycin, erythromycin, and sulfacetamide and sulfur lotions (Clenia®, Plexion®)
Oral medications (taken by mouth) include:
- Anti-inflammatory dose doxycycline (Oracea®) Doxycycline is used most commonly as an antibiotic for the treatment of bacterial infections, including acne. However, doctors rely on its anti-inflammatory properties when prescribing it for rosacea.
When prescribed for rosacea, doxycycline is usually prescribed in low doses of 40mg per day. This is referred to as an “anti-inflammatory” dose. This amount is below the standard antimicrobial dose of doxycycline that kills bacteria. The low dose reduces the risk of developing side effects associated with antibiotics and of developing bacterial resistance. Oracea® is the brand name of doxycycline that has been formulated to provide anti-inflammatory effects when taken once a day. Its low dose formulation makes it safe for long-term use.
- Oral antibiotics (doxycycline, erythromycin, tetracycline)
A combination of medications may be recommended for maximal benefit. For instance, an oral medication, such as Oracea®, may be combined with an antibiotic applied to the skin, such as metronidazole or azelaic acid.
Procedures for Rosacea
Your doctor may also recommend one of following procedures:
- Laser therapy—Laser and light therapies are used to shrink a bumpy or swollen nose, reduce persistent redness, or decrease the number of visible blood vessels (telangiectasias)
- Electrosurgery—a procedure in which the skin is numbed and a small electric needle is used to destroy visible blood vessels (telangiectasias)
Multiple treatments may be necessary to achieve optimal results. Your doctor may also recommend future treatments to maintain long-term results.
If left untreated, chronic rosacea can lead to rhinophyma and skin thickening, which are more difficult to treat. Your doctor may recommend procedures to reshape areas, such as your nose or forehead, to a more normal appearance:
What should I expect from rosacea treatment?
It takes time for rosacea medications and other therapies to work, but many rosacea treatments will show results within the first 2 months. Your doctor can provide a reasonable estimate of results, depending on the treatment(s) prescribed and any lifestyle changes you make.
Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions. Sticking to your rosacea treatment can help reduce the chances of experiencing another flare-up and keep your rosacea under control.
It is important to continue with your treatment regimen and lifestyle modification even if your rosacea clears up.
© 2010 Vivacare. Last updated April 3, 2011.
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