Rosacea Treatment and You
If you have rosacea, there are many ways to keep the condition under control. Though rosacea can't be cured, treatment can help you control symptoms and prevent them from getting worse. Some things you can do on your own, like avoiding triggers. Other approaches include creams, medication, or laser treatments.
Avoiding Your Rosacea Triggers
To keep rosacea under control, you need to do your part. Learn what your own personal triggers are. Use a symptom diary to keep track.
When you find a pattern to your rosacea flare-ups, make adjustments to your habits and lifestyle to prevent problems.
Rosacea Medications and Topical Treatments
Your treatment will vary depending on the type of rosacea you have. Most of the creams and oral medications below are most effective in people with papulopustular rosacea (where symptoms may include small pimples, facial flushing, and tiny red lines on the cheeks).
These treatments may still be used in people with other types of rosacea as well, but often with less success. And even if the approach works and your symptoms go away, you might stay on the treatment to stop further flare-ups. Your doctor may combine a few approaches, using multiple drugs or creams.
Antibiotics are a common rosacea treatment, but that's not necessarily because bacteria causes rosacea. Instead, antibiotics may resolve rosacea symptoms by reducing swelling and relieving the inflammatory lesions seen in rosacea.
Rosacea Treatment Options
Your doctor might start treatment with a prescription cream or gel you apply to your face once or twice a day.
Topical metronidazole (MetroCream or MetroGel) is an antibiotic cream and a very common rosacea treatment. Other antibiotic creams include clindamycin (Cleocin and Clinda-Derm) and erythromycin (Emgel and Erygel).
Brimonidine (Mirvaso) is another option and may work by constricting the dilated facial blood vessels to reduce the redness of rosacea.
Your doctor may also recommend azelaic acid (Azelex and Finacea) and sodium sulfacetamide and sulfur (Clenia and Plexion).
Tretinoin (Avita, Retin-A), a retinoid, is used in some hard to treat cases.
These topical treatments have side effects, like skin irritation. A few are not safe for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Talk to your doctor about the risks.
If your rosacea is more severe -- or doesn't respond to ointments -- your doctor might suggest antibiotic pills, though you might keep using skin treatments as well. Antibiotic pills may also be used if you have ocular rosacea.
Some oral antibiotics your doctor might try are minocycline (Dynacin), erythromycin (ERYC), metronidazole (Flagyl), and doxycycline (Vibramycin.)
Like any medicine, oral antibiotics can cause side effects. Treatment is typically long-term, often lasting at least six months.
If these rosacea treatments don't work, your doctor may try other medicines, such as isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis, and Sotret). However, because of its side effects -- like the risk of birth defects -- its use is not routine.