Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
Though there's no way to eliminate rosacea, effective treatment can relieve signs and symptoms. Most often this requires a combination of prescription treatments and certain lifestyle changes on your part.
Your doctor also may recommend certain moisturizers, mild cleansers, sunscreens and other products to improve the health of your skin. If hot flashes appear to trigger your rosacea, you might ask your doctor what treatment options are available for the signs and symptoms of menopause.
You may need a combination of prescription-strength topical medication (lotion, cream or gel) and oral medication (pill, capsule or tablet) to treat rosacea.
- Topical medications. Medications you apply to your skin once or twice daily may help reduce inflammation and redness. They may also be used along with oral medications or as part of a maintenance program to control symptoms. Common topical medications include antibiotics such as metronidazole (Metrocream, Metrogel, others), tretinoin (Atralin, Renova, others), benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid (Azelex, Finacea). These topical applications can cause skin irritation, redness, dry skin, and stinging or burning of the skin.
- Oral antibiotics. Doctors may prescribe oral antibiotics to treat rosacea, more for their anti-inflammatory properties than to kill bacteria. Oral antibiotics are also prescribed because they tend to work faster than topical ones. Common prescription oral antibiotics include tetracycline, minocycline and erythromycin. Possible side effects include stomach discomfort, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, and sore mouth or tongue.
- Isotretinoin. Isotretinoin (Accutane, Amnesteem, others) is a powerful oral medication sometimes used for severe cases of inflammatory rosacea if other treatment options fail to improve symptoms. Usually prescribed for cystic acne, isotretinoin works to inhibit the production of oil by sebaceous glands. People who take it need close monitoring by a dermatologist because of the possibility of serious side effects, including depression and suicidal thoughts, bone or joint pain, and skin infection or rash. Also, this drug causes birth defects if taken during pregnancy. If you plan to become pregnant or suspect that you are pregnant, stop taking this medicine and check with your doctor.
Your doctor may treat ocular rosacea with oral antibiotics or steroid eyedrops.
The duration of your treatment depends on the type and severity of your symptoms, but typically you'll notice an improvement within one to two months. Because symptoms may recur if you stop taking medications, long-term regular treatment is often necessary.
Enlarged blood vessels, some redness and changes due to rhinophyma often become permanent. In these cases, surgical methods, such as laser surgery and electrosurgery, may reduce the visibility of blood vessels, remove tissue buildup around your nose and generally improve your appearance.
- Goldstein BG, et al. Rosacea. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 7, 2010.
- What is rosacea? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rosacea/rosacea_ff.pdf. Accessed Sept. 21, 2010.
- Rosacea. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/public/publications/pamphlets/common_rosacea.html. Accessed Sept. 21, 2010.
- Information for patients. The National Rosacea Society. http://www.rosacea.org/patients/faq.php. Accessed Sept. 23, 2010.