Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that affects the skin of the face (generally, to the greatest extent near the center), the eyelids, and, sometimes, the neck, and upper back and chest.1 Symptoms mostly occur in sun-exposed areas, and consist of redness, acne-like pustules and papules (but not comedones, or blackheads), visible blood vessels (telangiectasias), and swelling of the skin. Dramatic facial flushing may occur after consuming alcohol, hot drinks, or spicy foods, or after exposure to excessive sunlight or extremes of hot or cold. In the eye, acne rosacea produces symptoms known as blepharitis. Over time, rosacea may cause the nose to become enlarged.
Treatment of rosacea involves avoiding stimuli that worsen the disease, as well as using medications similar to those used for acne. Laser treatment can remove unsightly blood vessels and reduce flushing.
Proposed Natural Treatments for Rosacea
A substantial (246-participant) 12-week double-blind study found that a cream containing 1% Chrysanthellum indicum significantly improved rosacea symptoms as compared to placebo.3 In another placebo-controlled study, a combination of milk thistle and methylsulfonylmethane topically applied by 46 subjects for 1 month appeared to be effective for rosacea.5
Some alternative practitioners believe that rosacea is caused by poor digestion and recommend use of betaine hydrochloride or apple cider vinegar to increase stomach acid. In addition, they may recommend digestive enzymes. However, there is no meaningful scientific evidence to indicate that use of these treatments will reduce symptoms of rosacea.
Other natural treatments sometimes recommended for rosacea, but that also lack scientific support, include aloe, aromatherapy, burdock, chamomile, Chinese herbal medicine, food allergen avoidance, red clover, rose hips, selenium, vitamin B-complex, vitamins C, D, and E, yellow dock, and zinc.
For rosacea symptoms that affect the eye, see the article on Blepharitis.
Herbs and Supplements to Use Only With Caution
Various herbs and supplements might interact adversely with drugs used to treat rosacea. For more information, see the individual drug article in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
2. Syed A. AAD 63rd Annual Meeting: Poster 19. Presented February 20, 2005.
3. Rigopoulos D, Kalogeromitros D, Gregoriou S et al. Randomized placebo-controlled trial of a flavonoid-rich plant extract-based cream in the treatment of rosacea. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2005;19:564-568.
4. Draelos ZD, Ertel K, Berge C et al. Niacinamide-containing facial moisturizer improves skin barrier and benefits subjects with rosacea. Cutis. 2005;76:135-141.
5. Berardesca E, Cameli N, Cavallotti C, et al. Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: clinical and instrumental evaluation. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008;7:8-14.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
Last Updated: 12/15/2015
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