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Getting the Red Out of Rosacea

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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 can often be seen just under the skin and some people also experience pimple-like 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, 2010).

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), 5'8" and weigh 139 lbs. 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 non-standard 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 over 10 years ago and was on metronidazole. I still had problems with breakouts on my face after being in the sun. Later, I was also diagnosed with ocular rosacea that felt like sand in my eyes every morning and throughout the day. I was advised to take eye drops 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 any more."

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.

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I eliminated sugar and most bad carbs and the problem went completely away. I am 56 and suffered for years and tried everything prior to this.

One woman commented that she uses daily a vitamin k creme. Isn't there the danger of overdosing on vitamin k, since it's also contained in all green vegetables? What are the symptoms of an overdose of k?


I am sending this information to my sister, who has rosacea. I look forward to hearing from other readers, also, what has helped them.

I thought digestive enzymes containing Betaine HCL were supposed to work.

A dermatologist prescribed Metrogel for what he called rosacea. It's expensive stuff. Before that I was getting satisfactory results using Sea Breeze Astringent. The red lines would be on my forehead upon waking up in the morning. I'd dab on some Sea Breeze with a cotton ball, and by the afternoon, the blotches would be gone. Of course, this was a daily ritual. Lately, I've been getting better results using triple antibiotic ointment.

You're cautioned not to use it for more than 7 days in a row. I don't have to use it that often. The blotches don't come back daily. Sometimes I go back to the Sea Breeze for a spell. My father tipped me off to the Sea Breeze, and it was the only thing that worked for him. It seems there may be a hereditary factor with rosacea. I never had a problem until I hit age 65 or so.

In reference to the ocular rosacea mentioned, what type of eye drops were used?

I have been having bout & flare-up with Rosacea for about 20 years now. I used to wipe my nose & the area around it with rubbing alcohol to make sure it was clean before rubbing on the the Metronidazole cream.

I got a new Primary doctor who is also a Dermatologist and told him what I was doing and he said to stop using the Alcohol as it is to strong--- he suggested using good old WITCH HAZEL---I switch to the Witch Hazel and in about 3 months time there are very few if any signs of the Rosacea.

My wife developed rosacea on her face (mainly nose area) and after a few trips to dermatologists without good results, she eliminated special soaps and make-ups to start from the beginning and eliminate possible culprits. Then she learned from a health magazine that a lady recommended the use of selsun blue shampoo, the original type: no conditioner, no vitamins.

She washed her face and rubbed the shampoo with her finger, at night before going to bed and then in the morning. After a few days, her problem with rosacea has vanished. Then, she passed the information to our daughter who suffers from psoriasis. She has used the shampoo on her legs and the psoriasis is healing extremely well. I hope others have same good results with this tip.

A young dermatologist recommended I use a Sodium sulfacetamide 10% & Sulfur 1% wash. It was to be used twice a day. After a month the Rosacea seemed to be better, but not completely gone. I scheduled a second appointment & she recommended that I take Oracea (40mg) for my Rosacea. If I use both of them every day, I do not have the redness or breaking out on my face. This medication is in the high price field, but the doctor gave me a credit card from Oracea, & instead of over $300 (month) it is only $25-35 out of pocket. I have insurance and also am on medicare.

I have had problems with Rosacea & the Dermatologist gave me a prescription for tetracycline & Finacea which sort of worked. The tetracycline gave me an upset stomach. The Dr. also suggested I not have anything with caffeine in it & no spicy food.

I stopped eating anything with chocolate in it & stopped drinking anything with caffeine - not even decaffeinated beverages. My face sort of cleared up, but my nose was still scaly. I tried Aloe gel with menthol & my face cleared up & the skin on my nose was nice & smooth. I've started drinking coffee & eating food with chocolate in it. After a month or so, I've noticed pimples starting to show up on my nose. I use the Aloe gel w/ menthol & the blemish goes away.

I tried keeping a food journal to identify triggers and found the most astonishing thing. Eating TWIZZLERS candy helped my rosacea every time. Go figure. If I could eat it every day I'd have no problem! Have checked the ingredients and tried taking lecithin, no luck. Anyone heard of this?

I hear baking soda and hydrogen peroxide work for rosacea.

I have just been diagnosed, by a dermatologist, but he gave me no meds for
the problem. I surely appreciate your information, especially, the input from other readers. Will try some of them and let you know results.


I had a Dermatologist tell me to wipe my nose and surrounding areas where I have the Rosacea with plain old WITCH HAZEL before I put on the Metronidazole cream. It worked wonders.

What a great resource of information. I am so glad that I found this site.

Lots to try. Lots to experiment with. Feel like conducting my own personal clinical trials -
Thanks to P to P Pharmacy for making this info available, and to all who share. Not certain how long to try each suggestion tho. One or 2 weeks sufficient?
Tried the Metro..... Rx w/out result. Ready for alternatives.

Hi! Well done on this article. I have a little question though... Since I have rosacea I use metronidazol creme. But everytime I quit the stuff, the redness comes back! It's very irritating.

Now I read that lysine might do the trick. Anyone know if this is true? I started taking lysine and the bumps cleared, but I'm still very red and itchy. Also I read that taking lysine on a permanent basis might do more bad than good.

Still looking for help....

Thank you,


I have been seeing a dermatologist for years for my rosacea. Nothing really helps much, and many things burn my skin. So I went to see my Neurologist for headaches and he asked what I was doing for my face. I told him I tried everything, but currently using Finacea. He told me to use Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo on my face, for about 5 minutes, while taking a shower. The first time in 8 years, the redness is finally going away!

It took 3 days to start to show, and its still been 2 weeks, but it is the best I've seen it. It is very drying, so I just moisturize like crazy after my shower and that takes care of the dryness.

I have been on all medications, and tried a bunch of creams.. I have purchased special devices to clean my face at night that promise to remove the red. The only thing I am left with is a very red, irritated face and a bunch of expensive creams. A friend of mine showed me an article from the news paper about using selsun blue shampoo on your face to clear the rosacea.

I thought.. well if it were only that easy, why weren't more doctors telling patients to use it?? But, I also thought, it's only five bucks.. why not try it. So I did, and I have to tell you, that within 3 days.. there was a HUGE difference in my face. I bought the original selsun blue. I put it on in the shower in the morning and leave it on for about 1-2 minutes. It definitely does dry your face out, but I put lotion on afterwards. The face may seem red because of being dry and putting lotion on, but after a few minutes, the redness goes away. I can't tell you all how very surprised I was that this simple drug store purchase works on such a terrible problem that most people are willing to spend tons of money on to fix...

can someone tell me which selsuun blue.. I went to get it today, I know you said original.. but which one is the original? One has salycitic acid, one had sulfur and there was another kind which I can't remember the main medicinal ingredient...
I've resorted to IPL laser which is expensive and not effective so am willing to try anything at this point.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: "Original" Selsun blue has selenium sulfide.

I developed rosacea a few years ago. I tried ignoring it but it got worse. I went to a dermatologist who gave me some samples of, I think it was called, 'Finacea.' That seemed to help a little but the prescription for that is a copay of $60. Metrogel works a little too as long as it's 1%. Again, $60 copay. The .75% is cheaper and doesn't do much good.

Then my wife told me to use Selsun Blue. I would wash my hair with it and drag it down over my face and wash that. If I didn't have some itchy scalp issues I would not have bothered as I thought it was BS, so no placebo issues here. I pretty much did this process out of habit. It was no trouble to do, no extra effort, no remembering things, easy. Low and behold, I got out the habit of using the metrogel because the rosacea absolutely disappeared. After months of nothing but Selsun Blue as treatment it's gone. It's either the selsun blue or a miracle.

Daughter diagnosed with rosacea. We tried Extra Virgin Coconut Oil after many, many other recommendations and this has worked wonderfully. She uses it as a moisturizer 2x a day. Got it at the health food store, must be Extra Virgin.

I read about Selsun Blue/rosacea in the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday. I went out and bought a bottle that afternoon, shampooed with it that evening, the next morning and this morning. My rosacea is gone. I have been taking antibiotics and using various prescription creams for 30 years to keep my rosacea in check, but it's never completely gone away. Even with creams and antibiotics, it was still present and noticeable.

After 2 days of Selsun Blue, this is the best my skin has been for 30 years.

what soap do you use on face in morning, when not using selsun blue?

Heard about the blue just recently. Bought the one with aloe today. I applied & will see what happens. Really I have tried so many products & most just seem to make matters worse. It had gotten to the point that i was just washing my face with water in hope that I wouldn't break out. I will keep you posted.

Re Selsun Blue
I had read that Selsun Blue can help with Rosacea but did not know which of their several brands.

I have tried one containing pyrithione zinc and it seems to work with minor re-appearances. (Using Itchy Dry Scalp --Dandruff Shampoo)with pyrithione zinc 1%.

However, I now see recommendations for the selenium sulfide type and I am about to give it a try using Walgreen's Moisturizing Dandruff Shampoo with selenium sulfide 1%.

Re Selsun Blue comment above

BTW -- Rosacea was on my nose. I am male, 77 y.o.

I read in the column a couple years ago about the effect of Selsun Blue on Rosacea. I would often have red bumps and splotches on my forehead and scalp. Drugs were too expensive. Milk of Magnesia did nothing for me. So, about four months ago I actually bought some Selsun Blue.

I wash my hair in the shower almost every night. I don't really wash my forehead in Selsun Blue but I give it a few swipes while washing my hair and don't rinse for a couple minutes. My old shampoo, Head and Shoulders, always seemed to make things worse and I would come out of the shower with a very dry, red forehead.

Within a few days of starting Selsun Blue my forehead cleared up and soon after the little red bumps on my scalp disappeared. I've had no symptoms of Rosacea for over three months. Good Stuff, Selsun Blue.

I wanted to return here to say thank you to everyone who suggested Selsun Blue. I'd been on two rounds of antibiotics, plus Metrogel, plus a 100 SPF, and still I got redness and pimples on my nose. (BTW, I never had rosacea until I went to Bali and got badly burned.) I started a regimen of Selsun Blue every few days, and my nose has been pimple free for more than two months.

Hi I'm wondering if your Rosacea ever came back?


Is the baking soda and hydrogen peroxide still working for you? Do you do it daily and do you use a moisturizer and sunscreen over it?

Is this still working for you? Has the Rosacea come back? Do you use a moisturizer and sunscreen afterwards? Thank-you.

Selsun Blue has a good marketing team methinks. What's $5 to a person desperate to get rid of rosacea! Why not exploit the masses by inconspicuously spacing out success stories all over the web of curing one of the most puzzling skin issues of recent memories! Save yourself some money, it doesn't work.

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: We assume you mean you tried it and it didn't work for you. Many remedies--and even most drugs--don't work for everybody. Certainly if Selsun Blue is too expensive, the person with rosacea should look for something less pricey. That won't be a prescription, we think.

what kind of moisturizer do u use after the Selsun Blue .. my face & arms are so very very dry

I was treated for Rosacea 4 times by a dermatologist before realizing nothing was permanently working. The prescriptions I was taking were expensive and temporary.

I started looking into other things. I was terrified I had mites or bugs, or's still unclear if Rosacea is mites....I thought several times it was my dogs! My poor lab got shaved down to his crew cut and glared at me everyday until he started growing his coat back.

I am a proactive person. I tore up my carpeting in my bedrooms, house, cleaned with vinegar, bought a brand new vacuum and faithfully (no matter how tired) did this daily. I also sprinkled table salt all over everything and left it for two days on a weekend I wasn't home and came home and vacuumed....the article I had read on fleas say to do that to get rid of eggs or fleas or whatever may be lurking in your house. Faithfully vacuumed.

Then I decided to put vinegar on my face. it burned, as expected, but not in a bad regretful way. It burned then stopped and cooled my face down. I went to my kitchen and got out some coconut oil. I use this daily in my coffee, I spread it on my face and it softened me right up and I was able to sleep. I did this every night for two weeks and it is now pretty much gone.

I also cut out some greasy foods (did not eat that much anyway) and slowly watch my diet to see if anything is going to make it flare again. It's absolutely miserable! When all was done and I've sat and thought about this for hours, vinegar has been being used by grandmas everywhere for centuries. It just made sense to try it. Coconut oil was all natural so I picked it to use to sorta lock the vinegar to my skin. There are probably better oils to use but this works for me.

I am not taking the low dose antibiotic everyday, or buying those creams that don't work....just vinegar and a little house hold modifications is all it took. I hope this helps someone out sure did me

I have had both seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) and rosacea for years. Both recently got worse with the SD spreading to my face. I went to the dermatologist who suggested dandruff shampoo and a continuation of the metronidazole which I have used irregularly for quite a while. He suggested I try rotating different dandruff shampoos, so I went out and bought Head and Shoulders, Selsun Blue and Trader Joe's Tea Tree Oil Shampoo (very cheap).

The first two did not help at all. The tea tree shampoo barely controlled the dandruff. Then a friend complained about dandruff to her hairdresser. He said she just had dry skin and to shampoo with a paste of water, baking soda and vitamin E oil. I knew what I have is more than dry skin so I was skeptical. But nothing else has worked all that well so I tried it, substituting coconut oil for the vitamin E oil.

I placed some of the paste on a wet wash cloth and scrubbed my entire face with it, paying special attention to the dandruff patches. I have thrown out the shampoos and soaps that contain sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate because of the potential for irritation.

After 4 days both conditions have completely cleared up. My scalp is not itching. I think it may also lighten some dark spots from sun damage. I will continue to use light makeup that I have found to be non-irritating, but I'm not needing to cover up red bumps or scaly skin. I'm ecstatic.

Thank you so much for this article!!

I would like to thank all posters here. Driven to distraction with the face, then the scalp---first tried the $189.00 Metrozone without result. Oh if I had checked here first!

Tried very very many suggestions. While some were better than others, many messy or short lived. Really hated all the sodium laural sulfate and other chemicals.

Did the brown Listerine rinse before shampooing. Seemed to help, but really--was being washed out.....same with vinegar...... Then one poster realized same and suggested vinegar rinse AFTER shampooing. Wow... considering generations of brunettes used vinegar for shiny hair...

Lifesaving solution! Also saving me from the sodium laural sulfite and other chemical poisons. Should I feel a 'patch' or 'spot'--I just spray with the vinegar in that area, rubbing on my scalp between washing.

I am also convinced that pro-biotics have helped lessen both ailments.

[stopping sugar, all white 'stuff'---of course!---but do lapse with that]

Tried Listerine on the face---yeow---much worse than even vinegar in the burn. Gave that up, but still wonder if diluted might work?
Now use coconut oil for moisturizer as read it has antibacterial properties. So far, great.

The thought of being invaded with mites or whatever feels creepy!
Sure hope one day soon reasons will be discovered.

Until then keep them coming! Thank you to all--

Epson Salt soaks, apple cider vinegar as a toner, tea tree oil and calamine lotion have worked for me. I use different ones on different days. I have very oily skin. So these help without over drying.

I have had rosacea for years, but this last year the redness and bumps had became far worse for me. I tried so many different lotions, soaps, creams including metronidazole cream prescribed by a dermatologist. Nothing made a difference, until I came across this site and the posts about using Selsun Blue shampoo. What a difference this has made for me in just five days, my face hasn't been this clear in years. I have stopped using the met cream since using the Selsun Blue Shampoo.

This is what I do:
I use the Selsun Blue Dandruff Shampoo, with Moisturizing Aloe that contains 1% Selenium Sulfide.
Once a day, I use the Selsun Blue shampoo as a face wash, working it into a lather and spreading it on my face. I leave this on for about 5-10 secs and then wash off thoroughly with warm water, followed by a good rinsing with cold water (to help close the pores). Since this seems to dry the skin on my face a bit, after the washing I apply a moisturizing lotion called All Purpose by Johnson & Johnson. This lotion is oil free, hypoallergenic and fragrance free, only about $9.00 a bottle.

That's it, that is all I do. In a nutshell, I wash my face with Selsun Blue Shampoo as described above and then the All Purpose moisturizing lotion and I am amazed at the results. I am not telling anyone else to follow this routine or suggesting that it will help anyone else, just describing what has worked for me. I did take it slow and easy the two days or so, using very little of the shampoo and even diluting it, by mixing just a drop or two of the shampoo in a cup with water, to make sure I didn't have a reaction or make the rosacea worse.

Thank you to all who have posted on here, been a huge help and make an incredible difference for me after only five days.

I was diagnosed with rosacea in my mid twenties. I'm now 33 and have been battling this skin condition ever since. I found this forum to be extremely helpful. Right now, I not only struggle with the redness but dryness and flaking skin on my face. I have to wear foundation to conceal the redness but I can't cover the flaking skin. The foundation makes the flaking appear worse.

I have tried several moisturizers after some research but it's still not enough. Recently I started using coconut oil but really don't like the feeling of it on my face... it did help with breakouts though. I was using the dicksons witch hazel toner which helped remove the peeling skin and it didn't flare up my rosacea. I would moisturize immediately after and it worked great. However, I read that witch hazel can aggravate rosacea and even though it's 100% witch hazel, it still has some alcohol in it which is supposed to flare up rosacea and dry your skin out. I stopped using it because I feared it would make my skin worse. Maybe the witch hazel toner helps some rosacea sufferers and makes it worse for others.

I'm so afraid of my condition worsening as I get older. I have been using the finacea gel at night to try to prevent this but I don't know if it works. I read that someone was experiencing really dry skin from taking cold medication. I've been taking Claritin and thought maybe that's why I have dry skin... so I just stopped taking it.

After reading this forum, I went out and bought the selsun blue to try. I used it in the morning and left it on my face for five minutes and then rinsed with warm water. Even though my face didn't look red, my skin felt horrible. It was so dry even after I moisturized. Maybe I left it on too long, maybe I need to gradually use it.

I did go on lexapro for anxiety because of my facial flushing. That medication has helped wonders for me. I no longer let stress get to my emotionally or physically.

I'm just tired of dealing with this condition. I struggled with acne all through my teens and then immediately after the acne subsided, I had to deal with rosacea. I wish I could just wake up and run out the door with no makeup on and not have to worry about my red blotchy face. I wish I could find what works for me so I can stop spending time and money trying to control my rosacea. 😔

I've had excellent success with Doxycycline capsules two times a day. It cleared it up completely. Topical gels and creams were either too expensive or ineffective.

Things to share about my rosacea, whether help or not or worth a try is up to you.
I find sugar and gluten avoidance helps.
Milk of Magnesia covering face, leave on for 'awhile' then rinse off.
Sorry you do not like coconut oil. I have read it is an antibacterial and I find it to be a pleasant moisturizer.
Brown Listerine has helped, but first used full strength and yeow---not good it burned so horribly. Watered down it helps. I also rinse it off after awhile and then moisturize.

Cannot say enough about probiotics. Was purchasing all sorts of expensive ones when a knowledgeable salesperson at whole foods suggested "Jason' brand to save money---was a lot less expensive.
Short on money I tried it and it seems pretty good... although have not taken the time to really check if the types and amounts are satisfactory. At least begin with some probiotics, good for many things.

Perhaps The PP could advise on ingredients for I have forgotten the best amounts of each bacteria and which are best.

Gentle cleansing 2x/day then good moisturizer. Thing is --it is not only an experiment, but I have found necessary to change the routine after a few weeks.

When my face has been scaly and chapped I have loaded my face with zinc oxide at nite, by morning, scaly and red have lessened.

Selson Blue--well, think 5 minutes for a first go when raw not a great idea-------posters here have said they have 'rinsed' with it. Best start slowly with any harsh chemicals?

Wish you the best. I will say that after Metrozome or whatever called for 189$, about 390$ in creams from a Plastic surgeon---the cost of these things in addition to the Dr. visits----outrageous-----
When on this site I learned many helps for total of about 12$.
Try some, be slow, rotate them, and the very best of luck.

How long have you been taking the doxycycline? I read that it's not good to take it for too long because it's an antibiotic and it can damage your stomach. The antibiotic is supposed to kill the bacteria but it's unknown if rosacea is caused from bacteria. Does anyone know why the selsun blue works? Does it kill bacteria? I really hate how my face feels after I use it. How long does it take to work? I've been using it for 3 days but haven't noticed a significant difference in the redness.

I've been taking the Doxycycline for a about three months. I haven't checked into what it might do to my stomach, but it hurts terribly if I don't eat food with it. The bottle says not to use antacids or drink milk within two hours of taking it. My doctor says milk interferes with the absorption of the drug. I'm not sure about the antacid part. I've taken milk with it just to keep it from upsetting my stomach. It hasn't decreased the efficacy of drug as far as I can tell.

The Selsun Blue worked for a while but then stopped helping. The Doxycycline quickly cleared up my face and keeps it clear. It even helps with the adult acne issue I've got going on. I'm 43. I asked about Tetracycline but my doc says its harder to find so he prescribes the other.

Does anyone know what to use for ocular rosacea?

I am concerned also about ocular rosacea. I have seen the question asked several time with no reponse. Anyone out there have ANY suggestions? My eyes constantly look like I have been on a 3 day drunk.

That is my question also Sharon. I look the same and I rarely even drink. It does look like I drink a lot though and in addition to the unsightliness I find it embarrassing as well.

I have run out of Probiotics for a few weeks now, and I 'think' 'perhaps' they were helping some.
Will know more when I get back on track, but in the meantime, sure would also like more help. Good luck.

I find restasis works well for my ocular rosacea... but for some reason it causes some issues with my sinuses. The prescription was for twice a day, every day - but I my sinuses just couldn't handle it. My eyes felt GREAT though! Now, I just use it in the morning a few times a week and it seems to really help.

For my face - I have a prescription lotion to use. Although, always red, I'm having a flare up these past few days. I'm going to go purchase some SB shampoo today. Hopefully it helps! :)

Would like to be notified when follow up comments are posted.

I know how you feel it is an uncomfortable and hot itchy burning feeling all the time - and seems to start itching through the night - I have had eczema since infancy and seemed to get that under control and then flushed up after a glass of wine or 2 and it just got worse - stopped the wine
and and cut back on chocolate pastry's and cakes - but still struggling .

I can not take vitamin K by mouth as it is the Antidote to Warfren - I don't know how it would effect you by putting it on the skin though.

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