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procedures to treat rosacea

Prescription Medication and Cosmetic Procedures To Treat Rosacea

This is the final post in the Rosacea article series where I have summarized how I treat my rosacea patients in my dermatology practice. The topic of this article is how I integrate prescription medicines and cosmetic treatments into my rosacea care. It’s important to note that this information is for educational purposes only.  If you think it may be helpful for you, you need to bring it into your treating dermatologist and discuss it with him or her.

In my previous posts in this rosacea series,
  • I explain what rosacea is and describe the symptoms. 
  • I outlined my supportive skin care recommendations
  • I also described my wholistic approach to managing this chronic condition.

You can find links to all the articles below. You can also find my complete and updated Rosacea Advice Pages in a link below as well. 

What are the topical medicated prescription products that I find are the most effective for treating rosacea in my dermatology practice? 

doctor's advice for complete skin care for rosaceaWhen I use prescription medicated products in a skin care routine I ADD them to my patient’s foundation regimen of skin care which I discussed in part 3 of this series. It is important to understand that when compatible products are layered they can build a complete therapeutic regimen.  The principle steps in my Complete Skin Care Routine™ are CLEANSE, CORRECT, HYDRATE AND PROTECT. When you provide these 4 essential steps for your skin with products used during your morning and evening skin care routine then your skin has its best chance to stay healthy. 

You will always get the best results with a complete and compatible skin care routine - especially with rosacea! Medicated rosacea skin care products typically fall into the cleanse and treat steps.

What are the best cleansers for rosacea? 

Best skin cleanser for facial rosaceaThe main cleanser I recommend for my rosacea patients is Calming Zinc Soap with 2% pyrithione zinc.  If this is not sufficient, I add a prescription sodium sulfacetamide (antibiotic) cleanser if my patient is not sulfa drug allergic.  I have them use this effective but smelly cleanser at night and the Calming Zinc Soap during the day. 

One other completely different medicated cleanser option is a benzoyl peroxide cleanser; while most rosacea patients can’t tolerate benzoyl peroxide there are rare rosacea patients who actually do best with this medicated ingredient. Typically these are people struggling with type 2 papulopustular rosacea and rhinophyma.  It would not be the first cleanser that I try on a patient however.

What are the best topical leave-on products and prescription medicated skin care products for rosacea?

best product to control rosacea without a prescription

Most of my rosacea patients use Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy. All prescription leave on products are applied after the Green Tea. That's just what I've found to be the most effective. 


Prescription skin care products include Metrogel, cream or lotion, Finacea, Soolantra or benzoyl peroxide (again it is a rare rosacea patient who tolerates benzoyl peroxide). 

I may also use topical lotrimin cream (clotrimazole) or ketoconazole cream if there is a component of facial dandruff, which many rosacea patients also have.  If there are a lot of juicy pimples then I may address demodex mites with elimite (permethrin cream though this is very ‘off label’ and not approved by our FDA since elemite is indicated for the treatment of scabies) or the Soolantra.

I only use non-halogenated topical cortisone steroid creams as a last resort for short term control of facial inflammation (such as over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream).  It’s important to note that halogenated steroids will aggravate rosacea. Steroid creams can also thin your skin and damage your eyes.  Your dermatologist will know what this means and should be the one to prescribe and supervise any cortisone use on your face. 

What oral prescription medicine do dermatologist's use to treat rosacea?

Again, I’m biased in that I don’t like to manage a chronic skin condition such as rosacea with lifelong antibiotics.  I use antibiotics to ‘get the attention of a person’s skin’ then stop them once the skin has cleared.  I typically use a full therapeutic dose to ‘get in and get out’ as fast as possible without creating super germs.  My favorite oral antibiotics to treat rosacea are tetracycline and doxycycline.  I don’t use minocycline because of its unique and serious side effects like liver inflammation, autoimmune syndrome/arthritis and gray skin discoloration.  I rarely use erythromycin due to its drug interactions.  In patients with very severe rosacea I’ll also consider a temporary course of Accutane if we've tried everything and their rosacea is severe and still making them miserable, though this is a last resort.

What are the best cosmetic procedures to treat rosacea in my practice?

Intense pulsed light treatments are the biggest advance we’ve had for rosacea treatment in recent years.  In my experience it both improves the cosmetic appearance of the skin’s ‘broken’ capillaries and quiets down a person’s propensity for flare ups of their rosacea.  In my office the treatments are done as an initial series of 5 and then maintenance treatments are necessary every year.  IPL treatments have made a big improvement in my own mild rosacea and I’m a big fan.

Selective ‘broken’ capillaries can be cauterized with electrocautery to improve the cosmetic appearance of the skin.  Lasers such as the V-beam laser can be used to treat more extensive capillaries.

Please know that I also constantly update my complete Rosacea Information on my Advice Pages where you can find everything all in one place. Click here for my Dermatologist's Rosacea Advice Pages. 

The full 5 Post Rosacea Series:

What is Acne Rosacea?

What Are the Skin Symptoms of Acne Rosacea?

Rosacea Skin Care Tips from My Dermatology Practice

Acne Rosacea; Dermatologist's Natural Treatment of Rosacea

Prescription Medications and Cosmetic Procedures to Treat Acne Rosacea (this post)