Tips to help prevent and treat rosacea

Published: August, 2013

Sixteen million Americans struggle with rosacea, a skin condition characterized by flare-ups of reddened and sometimes bumpy facial skin. Over time, rosacea can reveal blood vessels under the skin's surface. But you don't have to suffer. Consider this advice from dermatologist Dr. Kenneth Arndt, a Harvard Medical School professor.

  • Use topical treatments. "The most effective gels, creams, and lotions contain either metronidazole or azeleic acid. They should keep rosacea under control with continued use, which is safe for prolonged periods of time without side effects," says Dr. Arndt.

  • Treat rosacea on the inside, too. "Very low doses of antibiotics, such as doxycycline, are effective in controlling rosacea's inflammation. The dosage is much lower than would be used for a bacterial infection, so the potential side effects are minimized or absent. Start with orals and topicals, then taper off to topical agents only"

  • Eliminate dilated blood vessels with lasers. Effective treatments include the pulsed dye laser (yellow light), pulsed green-light laser, and intense pulsed light. Several treatments are usually required, spaced six to 12 months apart.

  • Use diet to avoid flare-ups. "Do everything possible to avoid triggers such as spicy foods as well as thermally hot food and drink—it's the heat that causes flushing, not the coffee itself," says Dr. Arndt.

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