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11 Best Remedies for Rosacea

Although there’s no cure for rosacea, there are ways of treating this acne-like skin condition. Here are 11 remedies for rosacea symptoms.

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It might look a little like acne, but rosacea is a different health condition altogether-one that usually strikes adults over 30, often those with fair skin. Rosacea symptoms include flushed, pimply, thickened facial skin; watery eyes and visible blood vessels-typically they get worse without treatment.

Although we don’t know what causes rosacea, there’s some evidence that food sensitivities, inflammatory disorders and H. pylori (the bacterium that causes ulcers) may play a role. Anything that causes your face to flush-including menopausal hot flashes and humid weather-can also set off a flare.

There’s no cure for rosacea, but you and your doctor can do plenty to minimize symptoms and keep them from recurring. When you’re having a flare, use these remedies for rosacea to cool the heat and stop the sting.

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1. Cold compress

Soak a washcloth in cool water to which you’ve added 5 drops rose, lavender, and chamomile oils. Place over your face for 10 minutes several times a day. The cool compress constricts blood vessels that cause flushing, reducing redness. The herbs, especially chamomile, are traditionally used to soothe skin inflammation and irritation.

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2. Digestive enzymes

For some reason, digestive enzymes appear to help with rosacea. When researchers gave 21 rosacea patients pancreatic enzymes-a type of digestive enzyme-with meals, their condition improved. This remedy seems to work best in people who experience stomach upset-gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation-along with the typical symptoms of rosacea.

There are several possible explanations for why these enzymes work; most are based on the idea that people with rosacea don’t make enough stomach acid. This in turn can encourage the growth of H. pylori (which is suppressed by stomach acid) or perhaps allergic reactions triggered by the incomplete digestion of proteins (digestive enzymes break down food). We also know that digestive enzymes decrease inflammation, which is present with rosacea.

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3. Deep breathing

Breathe deeply and slowly, filling your abdomen with each breath and exhaling through your mouth. Deep breathing reduces stress, a major trigger for rosacea. If you calm yourself down quickly enough, you might even be able to halt the flare.

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4. Fish oil

Because rosacea is an inflammatory condition, fish oil supplements-which fight inflammation throughout the body-may help. Take 1500 milligrams twice a day. Fish oil has multiple benefits-it will also help protect you against heart disease, for instance.

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5. Hydrochloric acid

This supplement normalizes stomach acid levels. Take with meals if you have excessive gas, chronic diarrhea and/or constipation along with rosacea symptoms. Follow the directions on the bottle.

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6. Prescription drugs

MetroGel, MetroLotion (metronidazole) is the first topical therapy approved for rosacea, this drug controls rosacea through its anti-inflammatory properties, not by killing germs, even though it’s an antibacterial. 

If metronidazole doesn’t work, Azelex (azelaic acid) may. Like metronidazole, it probably controls rosacea through its anti-inflammatory properties, but we don’t know for sure. Because azelaic acid can cause mild stinging, burning and dry skin, try metronidazole first.

Accutane or Roaccutane (isotretinoin)-an oral retinoid that is a form of vitamin A-can quickly bring rosacea under control, probably through its anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Because it poses side effects such as sun sensitivity and birth defects in women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, it shouldn’t be used for more than 2 weeks.

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7. Lasers

A dermatologist or plastic surgeon uses lasers to target enlarged blood vessels just under the skin. The laser’s heat builds in the blood vessel, causing it to disintegrate. You’ll need at least 3 treatments to see results.

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8. Makeup

Although it won’t reduce rosacea, makeup-especially green-tinted foundation-can hide it. Keep in mind that the wrong type of makeup, however, can aggravate rosacea. Choose water-soluble makeup with few preservatives and no fragrances. If you’re using topical medications, wait 10 minutes after using before applying makeup. Ask a cosmetologist for tips on which brands are best. 

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9. Gentle skin care

Gently cleanse your face each morning using a moisturizing, foaming cleanser that is not grainy or abrasive. Rinse your face with lukewarm water, then gently blot dry. Let your face totally air-dry before applying any topical medications. Don’t use glycolic acid, alcohol, astringents or exfoliant facial cleansers and toners, all of which further irritate skin.

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10. Preventing red flushes

Lay off spicy foods and hot liquids-all of which can contribute to facial flushing. Stay cool, as heat and humidity can make rosacea worse. Use air conditioning, avoid hot stoves and skip the hot tub and sauna. Slather on the sunscreen and try a stronger sunblock with zinc oxide for your nose and ears. Also wear a hat that protects your face. Dry, cold, windy weather can lead to windburn and facial chapping, which aggravates rosacea, so wear sunscreen even during the winter. Do your best to avoid stress-anger, frustration, and embarrassment can literally make you “red in the face.” Practice yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or some other form of relaxation regularly.

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11. Avoid medications that could aggravate rosacea

Certain drugs, such as Bellergal (for migraines and cluster headaches), and heart drugs that include calcium channel blockers, nitroglycerin, and nitrate paste, all cause facial flushing. Ask your doctor if there’s an alternative.

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