Treatment for rosacea focuses on controlling signs and symptoms. Most often this requires a combination of skin care and prescription treatments.
The duration of your treatment depends on the type and severity of your symptoms. Recurrence is common.
The type of medication your doctor prescribes depends on what signs and symptoms you're experiencing. Prescription drugs for rosacea include:
Medications that reduce redness. Recent studies have shown the drug brimonidine (Mirvaso) to be effective in reducing redness. It is applied to the skin as a gel. It works by constricting blood vessels. You may see results within 12 hours after application. The effect on the blood vessels is temporary, so the medication needs to be applied regularly to maintain any improvements seen.
Other topical products that have been shown to reduce redness and the pimples of mild rosacea are azelaic acid and metronidazole. With these drugs, improvements generally don't appear for three to six weeks.
- Oral antibiotics. Antibiotics help reduce some types of bacteria but likely mainly fight inflammation when used for this disease. Doxycycline is an antibiotic taken as a pill for moderate to severe rosacea with bumps and pustules. Other similar oral antibiotics are also sometimes used (tetracycline, minocycline, others), but their effectiveness isn't as well-supported by studies.
- Isotretinoin. If you have severe rosacea that doesn't respond to other therapies, your doctor may suggest isotretinoin (Amnesteem, Claravis, others). It's a powerful oral acne drug that also helps clear up acne-like lesions of rosacea. Don't use this drug during pregnancy as it can cause serious birth defects.
Laser therapy may help reduce the redness of enlarged blood vessels. Other options for treating visible blood vessels and changes due to rhinophyma are dermabrasion, intense pulsed light therapy and electrosurgery.
Gentle daily facial massage may help reduce swelling and inflammation. Use a circular motion with your fingers starting on the central part of the face and work toward the ears.
Many other alternative therapies — including colloidal silver, emu oil, laurelwood and oregano oil — have been touted as possible ways to treat rosacea. But no conclusive evidence supports the idea that any of these substances are effective.
Talk with your doctor if you're considering dietary supplements or other alternative therapies to treat rosacea. He or she can help you weigh the pros and cons of specific alternative therapies.