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Getting the Red Out of Rosacea

Getting the Red Out of Rosacea
Photo by M. Sand, D. Sand, C. Thrandorf, V. Paech, P. Altmeyer, F. G. Bechara
Original file location http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Rosacea_01.jpg
CC 2.0 This photo has been cropped

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.

Photo by M. Sand, D. Sand, C. Thrandorf, V. Paech, P. Altmeyer, F. G. Bechara

Original file location http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Rosacea_01.jpg

CC 2.0 This photo has been cropped

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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