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Natural Treatments for Rosacea

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Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Natural Treatments for Rosacea
Afonso Lima

What is Rosacea?

Several types of alternative medicine are commonly used by people with rosacea, a chronic skin condition marked by redness of the face.

Most common among women and fair-skinned people between ages 30 and 60, rosacea affects more than 14 million Americans. Signs and symptoms of rosacea include:

  • areas of redness on the face
  • small red bumps or pustules on your nose, cheeks, forehead, and/or chin
  • small blood vessels on your nose and/or cheeks (called telangiectasia)
  • tendency to flush or blush

Rosacea may also result in a red, bulbous nose (known as rhinophyma) or a burning or gritty sensation in your eyes (known as ocular rosacea).

Natural Treatments For Rosacea:

In conventional medicine, treatment for rosacea typically involves using medication and/or avoiding triggers that worsen rosacea symptoms (such sun exposure, stress, alcohol consumption, and spicy food). In some cases, laser therapy may be suggested to reduce flushing and the appearance of blood vessels.

A number of natural remedies and alternative techniques are also used to reduce rosacea symptoms. Here's a look at the most frequently used alternative treatments for rosacea:

1) Chrysanthellum Indicum Cream

A cream containing an extract of the herb Chrysanthellum indicum may help treat rosacea, according to a study published in Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology in 2005.

For the study, 246 people with rosacea used either a cream containing one percent Chrysanthellum indicum extract or a placebo every day for 12 weeks. Results showed that the Chrysanthellum indicum cream was significantly more effective than the placebo in reducing rosacea symptoms (including facial redness). Adverse reactions were mild and did not differ from those experienced by members of the placebo group.

2) Niacinamide Cream

A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide may aid in the treatment of rosacea when applied directly to the skin. In a study published in the journal Cutis in 2005, researchers found that a niacinamide-containing facial moisturizer was more effective than a placebo moisturizer in improving the skin barrier among people with rosacea. The study involved 50 rosacea patients and a four-week-long treatment period.

3) Azelaic Acid Cream

A substance derived from wheat, rye, and barley, azelaic acid is thought to alleviate skin redness and reduce rosacea-related papules and pustules when applied to the skin.

For a report published in the Archives of Dermatology in 2006, investigators sized up the available studies on the use of azelaic acid cream in treatment of papulopustular rosacea (a type of rosacea characterized by redness with bumps and pimples). In their analysis of five studies with a total of 873 patients, the report's authors concluded that azelaic acid in 20% cream and 15% gel formulations appear to be effective in the treatment of papulopustular rosacea.

Azelaic acid cream may cause several side effects, including stinging on application and lightening of darkened areas of skin.

4) The Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Research shows that inflammation plays a key role in the development of rosacea. Therefore, many practitioners of alternative medicine recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce rosacea symptoms.

While there's currently a lack of scientific support for the anti-inflammatory diet's effectiveness as a rosacea treatment, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may help enhance your overall health and possibly protect against diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

See The Anti-Inflammatory Diet for foods to eat and foods to avoid on an anti-inflammatory diet.

5) Addressing Food Intolerances

Since certain foods are thought to trigger the release of chemicals that dilate blood vessels and cause flushing, some practitioners of alternative medicine recommend avoiding these foods in order to reduce rosacea symptoms.

An inexpensive and effective way of identifying food intolerance is through an elimination and challenge diet, which involves removing allergenic foods from the diet for one to two weeks then systematically introducing them into the diet to isolate the foods that cause reactions. Supervision by a health practitioner is recommended.

6) Stress Management

Because stress is considered a common trigger for rosacea flare-ups, stress management techniques may help keep rosacea in check. For example, a 2003 report published in Dermatologic Therapy indicates that hypnotherapy may help improve symptoms in people with rosacea.

Using Alternative Medicine For Rosacea

For optimal treatment of rosacea, it's important to work with a healthcare professional and find out which lifestyle changes and treatments are most likely to be beneficial in managing your condition. If you're considering the use of alternative medicine in treatment of rosacea, talk to your doctor and/or dermatologist for help in determining which approaches might be best suited to your particular needs.

Sources

Draelos ZD, Ertel K, Berge C. "Niacinamide-containing facial moisturizer improves skin barrier and benefits subjects with rosacea." Cutis. 2005 Aug;76(2):135-41.

Fleischer AB Jr. "Inflammation in rosacea and acne: Implications for patient care." J Drugs Dermatol. 2011 Jun;10(6):614-20.

Liu RH, Smith MK, Basta SA, Farmer ER. "Azelaic acid in the treatment of papulopustular rosacea: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials." Arch Dermatol. 2006 Aug;142(8):1047-52.

Rigopoulos D, Kalogeromitros D, Gregoriou S, Pacouret JM, Koch C, Fisher N, Bachmann K, Brown M, Schwarz E, Camel E, Katsambas A. "Randomized placebo-controlled trial of a flavonoid-rich plant extract-based cream in the treatment of rosacea." J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2005 Sep;19(5):564-8.

Shenefelt PD. "Biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral methods, and hypnosis in dermatology: is it all in your mind?" Dermatol Ther. 2003;16(2):114-22.

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