Q. I read about using milk of magnesia for treating acne. My skin condition is called rosacea. It is a painfully embarrassing problem and no one seems to know what causes it or how to cure it. (W. C. Fields was the most famous rosacea victim and people sometimes assume a red nose is a result of drinking too much.)

The pharmaceutical products my dermatologist prescribed failed to clear up my red bumps. So I tried magnesium sulfate in the form of a warm compress soaked in an Epsom salts solution. This worked beautifully, but nobody is making the rounds telling dermatologists about it.

A. Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) is an old-fashioned multi-purpose remedy that is sold as a laxative and muscle soak. Why it might work for rosacea is a mystery, but some readers have gotten relief from their redness and breakouts with topical milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide).

Here is one testimonial: “I’m 52 and my acne (actually rosacea) is related to menopausal hormone changes. Since my mid-forties I’ve tried many different prescription and OTC treatments. I like milk of magnesia the best and it’s by far the least expensive. I put MofM on my face at bedtime and by morning my skin looks better.”

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  1. D.M.

    I have used oil of evening primrose for the last month. It has been very soothing. I was using metro cream, have been since two aprils ago and had the worst outbreak yet (both outbreaks starting in April) so I quit the metro cream a month ago as well, as it didn’t seem to be working. So since this month I have had much improvement, less redness less bumps not the rawness but still a ways to go. Therefor I started to take the evening primrose internally as well. I think I will try the magnesium tonight. I have been taking supplements for digestion and health for more than a year and a half with a fair amount of success, but this April put me in the worst shape ever. I was given an address for a site in China that blames mites but I don’t know if I can trust it.
    It says: “Professor Zhao Zhong says 90% of the acnes are because of mite infestation.
    (This data is obtained from around 150 little clinics in China whom using solely the Zhongzhou Medical Ointment for treating acne/rosacea and other related skin diseases with a success rate of almost 100%)”
    Also this site in United States has a holistic clinic and seems to be pulling their ideas from the above quote. “Belly Health, Rosacea, and A Starring Role for Mites.”

  2. JES

    I tried the MOM last week. My face is calming down nicely… my nose is slower in calming down but I feel the MOM is doing the trick for me.

  3. liasum

    I too heard about mites causing irritation from bacteria they leave behind and so I went out a bought Cetaphil Antibacterial soap. I wash my face with the antibacterial soap which helps a great deal. I also have been dissolving Epsom salt into camomile tea (the tea is an anti-inflammatory), I keep it in the fridge and using paper towel I dip it in the mix and wet my face with it, let it dry and rinse off.
    It makes the red bumps disappear almost immediately and really calms my face down. I find this combination is not only cheaper but works better than the Rosadan cream I was prescribed. To help with the dryness on my face I use Virgin Coconut oil on my face at night and alternate with Avene skin recovery cream. (The Avene is expensive.)
    I did try MOM and it burned my face, so be careful! I threw that out.
    Thank you so much for the advise on Epsom salt. It really works for me:)

  4. DR

    I checked with CVS here in NYC and it has been discontinued.

  5. Theresa

    I just wanted to thank everyone for the suggestions. I’m so glad I found this website. I can’t wait to get home to try the Epsom salt. My face is so red and is really burning today. I hope this brings me some relief.

  6. John

    I would like to tell the person who wrote me, and thanked me for my good report on using Epsom Salts for my Rosacea. She also mentioned she had Rosacea on her Nose, and the pores were quite large. I found that using Epsom Salts also made my pores smaller. I just wanted to pass this along to her. It is worth her giving it a try. I have been using this treatment for nearly two weeks. To make a paste, I put about 1/4 inch of Epsom Salts in a small plastic container and add a little water to make up a paste. I apply this to my cheeks and nose, and leave on for about 12 minutes. I gently wash it off using a bowl of water on the cool side of luke warm.
    My face looks and feels really good with the pores looking much smaller. The only thing you still have to do is watch the Triggers. Mine are Indoor Heat and getting myself hyped up for good or bad reasons. I have to keep my Indoor Temperature below 70 degrees, and try to calm down . I hope this helps her.

  7. RP

    What helped significantly improved my Rosacea skin condition is by taking 100 mg. of Alpha Lipoic Acid (an antioxidant) twice a day. If I stop taking it the Rosacea comes back.

  8. Larry O

    I am 62 and within the past two years have starting to get pimples and outbreaks on my forehead and side of face. I asked a pharmacy friend about any over the counter remedies and he suggested an Epsom salt solution. I have tried it and had results that have dried it up when when an outbreak occurs. I filled a small jar with the salts, added water, and let it all dissolve. I then use a q-tip or cotton ball and apply it to my face. So far, so good!

  9. Tim

    I’ve had rosacea on one cheek only, for several years off and on, with varying intensity. I used Metrogel for years but discontinued it after I realized it wasn’t helping but actually making the redness worse. While nursing an arm injury with Epsom Salt baths I also ran across a pain-relief product at CVS called Epsom Lotion (CVS house brand), which I also bought for my arm.
    On a whim I used it on my cheek for a few days, and my Rosacea is GONE — it cleared up almost instantly. No redness, no bumps, no nothing. My face has been clear for a month with not one bump.
    I have to think that this product, which is formulated for skin, would be a better way to apply magnesium than the MoM (which is of course for internal use) or even the Epsom compresses. I highly recommend you try it.

  10. Yael

    I have rosacea as well, and the weirdest part of it seems to be that it “mutates” often. I’ve had this for 6 years, and I’ve tried many many creams and potions recommended for it: finacea, elidel, anibiotics, metrogel, cetaphil, apple cider vinegar, tree tea oil, eucerin red control, aveeno redness relief, triderma, aloe vera, mango peelings, cucumber masks, oatmeal creams and masks.
    ALL of these remedies seemed to work at first, for the first few months, and then, all of a sudden the breakout came back and these remedies would not help anymore. I wont try laser because I’m uninsured and it does not fit in my budget at all. The ONLY time i didn’t have a breakout for 10 months was when I took Methimazole for graves disease. Rosacea banished during that time… but then bam! surprise surprise, it mutated and the break out was back.
    I am currently trying the MofM and so far it’s working, I hope this remedy is good for the long run and this rosacea doesn’t “mutate” again. BUT I have noticed that just because one has rosacea it doesn’t mean what worked for me will work for you or vice versa. Rosacea sucks so much because it affects each person so differently and there is such a lack of info about it out there that we have to be our own lab rats and experiment until we get results… can’t believe we can send a man to the moon but we still don’t have a long term treatment for rosacea…uuugggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

  11. LD

    I’ve had Rosacea for a very long time. I’ve tried everything. I started doing the Intensive Light Therapy after my Dermatologist wanted to put me on Accutane. (NO WAY) I did that for about a year. Very expensive but kept it in check. Not great results but better than doing nothing. I have been using Epsom Salts for the last two weeks and it is AMAZING!
    Since the FIRST DAY the redness went away, the pores got smaller, the oilyness went away (without drying) and my skin is smooth and soft. I just put about 1/4 cup in some warm water. While in the shower I use a sponge and put it on my face and chest. After 2-3 minutes I’m done. I would highly recommend you give it a try.

  12. Lori

    I have been metrogel-free for almost a year. All I use now is clear antibacterial hand soap. It doesn’t dry out my face and keeps the rosacea bumps from forming. I couldn’t be happier with such an EASY, CHEAP solution!

  13. JB

    I have been using epsom salts since late spring. I was using metrogel and taking a low-dose antibiotic, but for some reason the metrogel started to irritate my skin though I had been using it successfully for over a year.
    When I went to my dermatologist, my skin was very red and inflamed. She wanted me to use cortizone cream for a short time to try to clear up the inflammation. I was not comfortable with that and asked her about using epsom salts. Her response was that she didn’t know anything about it, but she is always supportive of non-drug treatments if they work. She suggested I use the salts on one side of my face and the cortizone on the other and measure their effects. I decided to just use epsom salts and I am so pleased.
    I was my face with cetaphil cleanser and while my face is still wet, I use a cotton pad soaked with a soultion of epsom salts diluted in warm water and really saturate my face. I then let it air-dry. I apply Complex 15 moisturizer after my face completely dries.
    I haven’t found any info on how much epsom salts to use, but I probably use 1/4 tsp of salts diluted in 1/4 cup of warm water. Using too much salt can case a burning sensation.
    Anyway, I would love to know what your experiences are if you decide to try it. It would be great if it helps you too, so I know that it is actually effective. I am very happy with the results so far. I just hope they last.

  14. Barb

    My Son & I have rash, do you think the Milk of Magnesia would help or Epsom Salt. We have been to all kinds of Dr’s. They are always prescribing different types of creams that do “NOTHING” to help this problem, every Dr. says it something different. We are so tired the itching & @$%&. Thank you for any advice. We want to SCREAM. We are sick of this crap.

  15. Lala

    I have had Rosacea forever and really the only thing that has ever worked for me is a prescription of Spironolactone and keeping my skin clean. On bad days I wear a little cover up, one that won’t clog your pores and a little Bare Minerals powder. I think the cure comes from inside then out. Best of luck everyone, keep trying!

  16. Lori

    I have had rosacea for 14 years. I’ve been using Metrogel to keep it under control the entire 14 years. A friend who also has rosacea was told by her doctor to try antibacterial soap to clear up her rosacea. She’s been Metrogel-free for over a year. I bought a generic, clear, liquid antibacterial soap in a pump bottle and have been using it for 2 1/2 months. I quit using the Metrogel at the same time and have had NO flare-ups since using the antibacterial soap!
    I’ve never been able to go more than a week without using the Metrogel without having painful red pustules form. I thought the soap would dry my face out too much, so I use Aveno ultra-calming cleanser (recommended for rosacea) for my entire face, then concentrate on the area affected by the rosacea (around my nose) with the antibacterial soap. I haven’t used any Metrogel since beginning the antibacterial soap! An easy and inexpensive remedy that you may already have at your sink! I chose the clear antibacterial soap because it has less dye and has a pleasant fragrance.

  17. Kathleen

    I have a mild, infrequent outbreak of rosacea on my face… I do, however, have bumps on my scalp that appear and disappear regularly… they are tender to the touch… can hurt if I scratch one with a comb or brush or fingernail. And I am wondering if anyone else has experienced this… I also am experiencing thinning of my hair and can’t help but wonder if the two are related.

  18. RJ

    I tried the MOM….made my face so red it looked like the worse case of rosacea that I have experienced. I tried the caraway seed tea and saw no improvement….I have tried a low dose antibiotic and no success there either. I am going to try the epsom salt compresses next.

  19. mm2

    Made from earth made my rosacea WORSE. From the first application, my face started to break out in dozens of red bumps. DON’T USE IT, YOU WILL REGRET IT! :(

  20. Rosacea Treatment

    I tried everything and after years of creams, gels , antibiotics and visits to dermatologists I found the treatment that worked for me. It is called IPL (Intense Pulse Light). If you google IPL you ill find plenty of info of what it is. The interesting difference between the place I went and the dermatologists I visited was that in this clinic (London, UK) they advised me on supplements that I should take and foods, and other triggers I should avoid or at least be aware of (as some like hormonal changes are triggers you can not do anything about).
    At first I went for a 6 session treatment in the first year, and after that I have only needed to go once a year. It is not cheap but then it is only once a year I go to the clinic, I am also not taking medication nor putting more things on my skin than the absolutely necessary.

  21. Marcia C

    My skin went crazy…it felt like it was on fire. Raw and red and such pain!
    I went to the dermatologist and he prescribed “MetroLotion” and all it did was burn my skin even more. (This started when I was about 48 years old—other strange health problems were happening at the same time).
    I started using the Made from Earth Rosehip & Hibiscus Face Serum also – and my skin is under control. The hideous raw red skin flares occasionally…I use it daily…

  22. JG

    A 50 mg doxycycline taken daily has almost made my rosacea totally disappear.

  23. L. Strong

    I tried Milk of Magnesia for my rosacea in hopes of getting rid of my expensive Metrogel and Rosac prescriptions, but MoM didn’t work for me. The only thing that seems to help is taking hormones with Metrogel (I’m 44) and switching to decaffeinated coffee.

  24. dp

    Have had rosacea for 15 years. The third dermatologist gave me something that worked for me. (we are all so chemically different, nothing works for everyone). The sulfur 5% wash worked, but the sulfur cream made it worse. I use only the wash then apply tea tree powder. The powder has a great drying effect.
    This usually cures and stops a breakout…. until the next time. She, (the dermatologist) said that mites are the cause. Can’t wait to try the Milk of Magnesia the next time it erupts!

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