The prospect of rosacea or “adult acne” isn’t something any adult would relish! But this is a common skin problem that causes redness and inflammation of the skin. People with this condition often struggle with red pimples or papules which resemble acne. And that’s why the nickname.
Rosacea could also lead to dilated blood vessels which appear as red lines on your face (telangiectasias or spider vein) and small bumps on your nose which make it look swollen. Some people with this condition also get dry red eyes. It is not clear what exactly causes rosacea, but experts suggest that it could be linked to abnormalities in your facial blood vessels. A reaction to microscopic mites known as Demodex folliculorum which live on your skin has also been suggested as a cause. Research also shows that external factors like sunlight, stress, cold, and heat can activate molecules known as peptides in your skin that impact your immune and neurovascular system, leading to dilated blood vessels, inflammation, and redness.
Rosacea is conventionally treated with topical medicines which reduce redness and spots. Oral antibiotics might be used to deal with more severe cases. And sometimes treatment with laser and intense pulsed light may be useful.1 2 3 Some natural remedies and steps can also help you deal with this condition. Here’s what you should try:
1. Dab On Some Green Tea
Green tea contains a polyphenol known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also has anti-angiogenic properties, that is, hampering the formation of new blood vessels. Angiogenesis has been seen to contribute to the development of rosacea.
One small study found that when people with telangiectasia (spider veins) and erythema (skin reddening) on the face applied a cream containing 2.5% EGCG twice a day for a period of 6 weeks, it suppressed two compounds which stimulate angiogenesis – hypoxia inducible factor-1α and vascular endothelial growth factor. This might help prevent spider veins and be useful for those with rosacea.4 5
2. Apply Licorice Paste
Licorice or Glycyrrhiza glabra is known for its complexion-enhancing properties in Asian communities. Research indicates that it can help tackle symptoms of rosacea as well. One study looked at the effect of using various skin-care products such as cleanser, concealer, and night cream which contained a licorice component called licochalcone A. A skin-care regimen that included this anti-inflammatory compound significantly reduced facial redness over a period of 4 to 8 weeks. You can mix licorice powder with honey or cooked oats to make a paste and apply that to your face to see an improvement in erythema.6
3. Use Bitterwood Ointment
Bitterwood or Quassia amara is a tropical plant recognized for its medicinal properties in folk medicine. And according to research, it works as a natural remedy when it comes to dealing with rosacea. During the course of a study, people with various grades of rosacea were treated with a gel containing 4% bitterwood extract for a period of 6 weeks. They experienced marked improvements in symptoms such as erythema, flushing, pustules and papules, and telangiectasia.
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of bitterwood extract are thought to play a role in bringing about these beneficial effects. Bitterwood extract also acts against Demodex folliculorum, a facial mite that is thought to play a role in the development and persistence of rosacea.7
4. Try A Chrysanthemum Cream
Wild chrysanthemum or Chyrsanthellum indicum has anti-inflammatory properties. One study looked at the effect of applying a cream which contained chrysanthemum extract twice daily for a period of 12 weeks on people with rosacea. This treatment significantly improved erythema as well as overall rosacea severity. Changes to blood vessels are thought to play a role in rosacea and chrysanthemum contains a combination of flavonoids, phenylpropenoic acids, and saponosids which may have a beneficial effect on blood vessels and thereby help ease erythema.8
5. Dab Some Kanuka Honey
Another remedy for rosacea might be sitting right there on your kitchen shelf – honey. One study looked at the effect of medical-grade kanuka honey (90% ) and glycerine (10%) applied twice a day for 8 weeks. This treatment was found to effect a twofold greater improvement in rosacea severity score than the control treatment. Though the study did not pinpoint the mechanism through which honey worked, the potent anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of honey might account for these beneficial effects.9
6. Apply Milk Thistle Ointment
Milk thistle contains a beneficial compound known as silymarin which might help ease rosacea. One study looked at the effectiveness of the combination of silymarin and methylsulfonilmethane at improving rosacea. Methylsulfonilmethane is a sulfur-containing compound which is naturally present in many common foods like cow’s milk, chocolate, coffee, and tea. Topical treatment with this combination was found to significantly improve many parameters such as itching, skin redness, hydration, skin color, and papules. It is thought to work by acting on cytokines, which are signaling molecules involved in the inflammatory process, as well as angiokines, which are involved in the formation of new blood vessels.
To get this combination right, you could try applying a mixture of milk thistle and a food which contains methylsulfonilmethane such as cow’s milk. Alternatively, look for a natural cream that contains silymarin and methylsulfonilmethane to deal with rosacea.10 11
7. Try Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera too can help soothe irritated and inflamed skin when you have rosacea. It contains compounds like bradykinase, which reduces inflammation and also has a moisturizing effect.12 13 Split open an aloe vera leaf, remove the gel inside, and apply it to soothe inflamed skin. You can also try using an aloe ointment.
8. Bathe With Colloidal Oats
Colloidal oatmeal has a long history of use for treating skin conditions such as erythema. Experts also recommend it for dealing with rosacea. Lab studies show that it has an anti-inflammatory effect as it can diminish pro-inflammatory cytokines.14 It also contains polysaccharides and hydrocolloids which help it retain moisture and work as an emollient.
To prepare colloidal oats, grind oats till it becomes a fine dry powder. This can be sprinkled into your bathwater. You can also fill a pantyhose with colloidal oats, wet it with water, and squeeze it out onto affected skin.15 16
9. Pat On Some Turmeric Paste
Turmeric, the spice that gives curry its yellow color, is a highly valued skin-care ingredient in South Asian countries. It contains a compound known as curcumin which has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. And this component is thought to help those with rosacea.17 Mix turmeric powder and water to make a thick paste and apply it on your skin to make the most of its anti-inflammatory effects.18
10. Avoid Triggers
Many factors can worsen rosacea or cause it to flare up. Avoiding these triggers when possible can help reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. It makes sense to keep a diary and jot down activities as well as drinks and foods that tend to trigger or worsen.
Here are a few common triggers you should watch out for and ideas to tackle them:
- Sunlight is a common trigger for rosacea. To minimize exposure, use a broad spectrum sunscreen that can offer protection against both UVB and UVA light. Get one which has an SPF of at least 30. It also makes sense to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and broad hats which limit exposure of skin to sunlight. Also, try to avoid going out when the sun is particularly strong such as during midday.
- Spicy foods, alcohol, and hot drinks and foods are also commonly reported to trigger rosacea. Try avoiding these and see if your symptoms improve. Also, check your trigger diary and correlate dietary habits with rosacea flare-ups. If you notice a pattern between certain foods and an exacerbation of symptoms, try avoiding those foods.
- Cold temperature is another frequently reported trigger. Use a scarf to cover your nose and face and protect them from the cold and wind.19
11. Put These Skin-Care Habits In Place
Here are a few tips on skin-care that can help manage rosacea:
- Use a nonabrasive, soap-free cleanser that has a neutral Ph to clean your face and avoid alcohol-based or scented cleansers.
- Wash your skin with lukewarm water and allow it to dry completely before applying make-up or medication.
- Use only skin-care products meant for sensitive skin. These will be described as hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and fragrance-free.
- Apply a moisturizer to soothe sore skin.
- Avoid waterproof or oil-based cosmetics which will need solvents to remove them. Instead, opt for water-based products that are easier to remove.
- Steer clear of facial products which contain ingredients like alcohol, fragrances, menthol, eucalyptus oil, clove oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, and peppermint which might irritate your skin.20
12. Clean Your Eyes Regularly
Sometimes, rosacea can cause your eyelids to become inflamed. A regular eye cleaning routine can help in this case. Apply a warm compress to your eyes and then follow up with a gentle massage over closed eyes using a circular motion – this can help loosen debris which may have collected in your eyes. Then dip a cotton swab in a cleaning solution and wipe your eyelids and lashes clean.
Ocular rosacea which affects your eyes can sometimes cause serious problems which threaten your eyesight. If you experience sensitivity to light, eye pain, or deteriorating vision, do see your doctor immediately.21
You can even prepare a cleaning solution at home by mixing bicarbonate of soda to water that’s been boiled and allowed to cool down till its comfortably warm.22 In case you have dry eyes, artificial tears may help. Also, avoid wearing eye makeup if rosacea is causing ocular symptoms.23
13. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Stress can also act as a trigger for rosacea in many people. Tackling stress, in turn, can help keep rosacea symptoms under control. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing to help manage stress. A low-intensity exercise regimen like swimming or walking may also be helpful. But do keep in mind that high-intensity exercise routines can actually be counterproductive where rosacea is concerned – when the body’s core temperature rises, it can cause your skin to flush and even flare up.24 25
|↑1||Causes. National Health Service.|
|↑2, ↑21||Rosacea. National Health Service.|
|↑3||Rosacea. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑4||Santo Domingo, Diana, Melissa M. Camouse, Andrew H. Hsia, Mary Matsui, Daniel Maes, Nicole L. Ward, Kevin D. Cooper, and Elma D. Baron. “Anti-angiogenic effects of epigallocatechin-3-gallate in human skin.” International journal of clinical and experimental pathology 3, no. 7 (2010): 705.|
|↑5||Sivamani, Raja K., Jared R. Jagdeo, Peter Elsner, and Howard I. Maibach, eds. Cosmeceuticals and active cosmetics. CRC Press, 2015.|
|↑6||Weber, Teresa, Andrea Schoelermann, Anette Buerger, and Ronald Rizer. “Tolerance And Efficacy Of A Skin Care Regimen Containing Licochalcone A For Adults With Erythematous Rosacea And Facial Redness: P1046.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 52, no. 3 (2005): P95.|
|↑7||Ferrari, Alicia, and Christian Diehl. “Evaluation of the efficacy and tolerance of a topical gel with 4% quassia extract in the treatment of rosacea.” The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 52, no. 1 (2012): 84-88.|
|↑8||Rigopoulos, D., D. Kalogeromitros, S. Gregoriou, J. M. Pacouret, C. Koch, N. Fisher, K. Bachmann et al. “Randomized placebo‐controlled trial of a flavonoid‐rich plant extract‐based cream in the treatment of rosacea.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 19, no. 5 (2005): 564-568.|
|↑9||Braithwaite, Irene, Anna Hunt, Judith Riley, James Fingleton, Janwillem Kocks, Andrew Corin, Colin Helm et al. “Randomised controlled trial of topical kanuka honey for the treatment of rosacea.” BMJ open 5, no. 6 (2015): e007651.|
|↑10||Berardesca, Enzo, Norma Cameli, Claudia Cavallotti, Jean Luc Levy, Gérald E. Piérard, and Gianfranco de Paoli Ambrosi. “Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: clinical and instrumental evaluation.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology 7, no. 1 (2008): 8-14.|
|↑11||Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM). Winchester Hospital.|
|↑12||Surjushe, Amar, Resham Vasani, and D. G. Saple. “Aloe vera: a short review.” Indian journal of dermatology 53, no. 4 (2008): 163.|
|↑13, ↑16||Norman, Robert A., and Reena Rupani. Clinical Cases in Integrative Dermatology. Vol. 4. Springer, 2014.|
|↑14||Michelle Garay, M. S., M. B. A. Judith Nebus, and B. A. Menas Kizoulis. “Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin.” Journal of drugs in dermatology 14, no. 1 (2015): 43-48.|
|↑17||Chainani-Wu, Nita. “Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of tumeric (Curcuma longa).” The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine 9, no. 1 (2003): 161-168.|
|↑18||Wu, Jessica. “Anti-inflammatory ingredients.” Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD 7, no. 7 Suppl (2008): s13-6.|
|↑19, ↑20, ↑23, ↑24||Rosacea. National Health Service.|
|↑22||Blepharitis. National Health Service.|
|↑25||Exercise. National Rosacea Society.|