Arrow-right Camera


Through trial and error, some healed rosacea

Tue., June 8, 2010

It’s called acne rosacea, but the name is confusing. This skin condition is nothing like your teenager’s pimples.

Rosacea affects women more than men and usually strikes during middle age. It causes redness of the cheeks, nose and forehead. Fine red lines often can be seen just under the skin, and some people also experience pimplelike blemishes.

Dermatologists are still debating the causes of rosacea. Research suggests that one important factor is inflammation triggered by cathelicidin, one of the skin’s innate immune defenses against bacteria, fungi and some viruses (Journal of Investigative Dermatology, May).

Treatment has involved oral antibiotics (doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline) and topical antimicrobials (metronidazole). A topical gel containing azelaic acid (Finacea) can reduce the production of cathelicidin and improve symptoms.

Despite standard therapy, some readers remain unsatisfied: “I have been suffering from rosacea for years. A dermatologist prescribed both metronidazole cream and minocycline twice daily. These were ineffective.

“I am a 47-year-old male, and exercise regularly (run and bicycle), 5 feet 8 inches tall and weigh 139 pounds. I eat a healthy diet.

“I drink alcohol occasionally, mainly red wine and beer. My cholesterol is low, and I take no medications. What else could I do for my rosacea?”

Alcohol is frequently blamed as a trigger, so this reader should cut back to see if that helps. Other nonstandard approaches include using antibacterial soap: “I bought a generic, clear, liquid antibacterial soap in a pump bottle and have been using it for two months. I quit using the Metrogel at the same time and have had no flare-ups since using the antibacterial soap! This is an easy and inexpensive remedy that you may already have at your sink.”

Another reader applies organic raw apple-cider vinegar to the affected skin, washing it off with a gentle cleanser after 30 minutes.

Helga offered her approach: “Jason Vitamin K Creme Plus works wonderfully well. It totally eliminated rosacea for me and several other people. Use it twice a day; it doubles as moisturizer.”

Dianne told her own story: “I was diagnosed with rosacea more than 10 years ago and was on metronidazole. I still had problems with breakouts on my face after being in the sun. Later, I also was diagnosed with ocular rosacea that felt like sand in my eyes every morning and throughout the day. I was advised to take eyedrops for the condition.

“About five years ago, I started taking Juice Plus vitamins. There were no claims with the product that it would help rosacea, although it certainly claimed to boost one’s immune system.

“My rosacea has totally disappeared. My ophthalmologist and my dermatologist can find no evidence of rosacea anymore.”

Omega-3 fatty-acid supplements have helped a few readers. Another reader specified daily cod-liver oil.

Italian researchers have found that dietary supplements containing silymarin and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) may ease redness (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2008).

There does not seem to be a single approach to rosacea that works well for everyone. Trial and error may be the best way to find out how to calm this inflammatory skin condition.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist. Teresa Graedon holds a doctorate in medical anthropology and is a nutrition expert.

There are two comments on this story »