Rosacea Treatment Options

Sue Chung Health Guide
  • I just found out that I have rosacea and the doctor gave me a lot of information, but I'm still confused. If it's not an infection, then why do antibiotics help? Is there a better way to treat this than medication?


    Antibiotics are only one method of trying to control rosacea flare-ups. Since rosacea cannot be cured, the medical treatments prescribed by dermatologists only work to control the symptoms and ease any discomfort.


    Rosacea symptoms and their triggers vary greatly between patients. After tracking your symptoms and flare-ups, you can provide your doctor with enough information to treat you effectively. Following is a list of the different types of rosacea treatment therapies that you can discuss with your dermatologist.

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    Although rosacea is not a bacterial infection and is not communicable via touch, antibiotics do seem to help some patients. Doctors are still unsure as to why they benefit rosacea patients, but some experts believe that the anti-inflammatory qualities of many antibiotics help alleviate the swelling and redness associated with the disorder. Others believe that more research is necessary since antibiotics can also affect the normal everyday bacteria that exist on the skin. You can take antibiotics either orally or topically. Oral antibiotics have the added bonus of helping to relieve some of the eye-damaging symptoms of rosacea.


    Avoiding triggers


    Figuring out your flare-up triggers and avoiding them may seem remedial, but this method of preventing flare-ups allows many rosacea patients to go for years without symptoms. Since different people react to different triggers, it's important to note which ones affect you and how. The most common triggers include heat and alcohol (which can aggravate or cause inflammation) but can also include exposure to the sun, wind, and humidity as well as intense exercise, taking hot baths or showers, and drinking hot beverages. Topical steroids can also cause an increase in flare-ups. Some patients experience symptoms after eating foods that don't bother many other patients, so keeping a diary of your personal triggers will allow you to avoid the things that will cause an uncomfortable recurrence of rosacea symptoms.


    Laser therapies


    Laser therapy can help your rosacea symptoms by targeting the blood vessels that lie just under the surface of the skin. The lasers work by destroying these tiny blood vessels and preventing fluid accumulation. Lasers can also help if your rosacea has progressed into severe skin thickening around the nose. Nowadays, laser technology has advanced to the point that bruising is minimal and recovery is quick. When opting for lasers, be aware that you must receive multiple treatments to see full results. In addition, not all dermatologists perform laser therapy so do your research and find one who has demonstrated a strong track record with lasers.


    Topical creams


    Certain topical formulas include sulfur or azelaic acid, which can be used alone or in conjunction with oral antibiotic therapy. There is a higher risk of negative reactions when using oral antibiotics over a long period of time. Therefore, some doctors prefer to prescribe topical treatments. Long-term use of topical therapy has been shown in studies to increase the rate of remission for rosacea symptoms. In one six-month study, 42 percent of rosacea patients who did not use any medication suffered a relapse while only 23 percent of medication users experienced the same.


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    Regardless of which treatment option you choose, remember to treat your skin gently on a daily basis. Most dermatologists recommend using mild cleansers and avoid using loofahs, washcloths, or sponges. Rinse with lukewarm water and blot-don't rub-dry.


    Allow skin to dry fully before applying any topical medication and wait for the skin to absorb the medication (usually about five minutes) before using makeup. In addition, all rosacea patients can benefit by staying out the sun and using sunscreen throughout the year. Avoid exercising in hot environments and opt for water-based activities whenever possible.

Published On: November 09, 2007