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Acne Rosacea

Acne rosacea, now more accurately know just as rosacea, is a chronic skin condition of the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. It consists of flushing, which turns into red coloration from the dilation of the capillaries and can lead to pustules that resemble acne.

Rosacea occurs mostly in middle-aged adults with fair skin. The cause of rosacea is unknown, but there is likely a genetic component. Severe, untreated rosacea can be disfiguring to the face.

 

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What are the symptoms of acne rosacea?

The skin of the center of the face—typically on or surrounding the nose—is red and swollen, with acne-like blemishes. As the condition progresses, parts of the eye can become inflamed and the nose may enlarge.

Dietary changes that may be helpful for acne rosacea

Alcohol may increase the reddening of the skin affected by rosacea, but alcohol is not the cause of this disease.1 Spicy foods and hot drinks have been reported anecdotally by rosacea sufferers to cause flare-ups,2 but no controlled research has evaluated these claims. One small, preliminary report suggested that fasting followed by a vegan diet (allowing no animal flesh foods, dairy products, or eggs) had only small and inconsistent effects on rosacea.3


Lifestyle changes that may be helpful for acne rosacea

Sun exposure, stress, excessive exercise, and extreme temperatures (hot or cold) of weather or bathing water may trigger flare-ups of rosacea, so avoiding these conditions is recommended.4

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful for acne rosacea

Azelaic acid is found naturally in wheat, rye, and barley and is used topically in a 20% strength cream. Controlled clinical trials have found this cream effective for mild to moderate acne, including rosacea.5 6 Azelaic acid cream is available by prescription only and should be used only under the supervision of the prescribing physician.

 

Preliminary reports in the 1940s claimed that rosacea improved with oral supplements or injections of B vitamins7 8 9 On the other hand, one report exists of rosacea-like symptoms in a patient taking 100 mg per day of vitamin B6 and 100 mcg per day of vitamin B12; these symptoms subsided when the supplements were discontinued.10 More research is needed to evaluate the potential benefits or hazards of B vitamins for rosacea.

 

Some people with rosacea have been reported to produce inadequate stomach acid.11 In a preliminary trial, supplemental hydrochloric acid, along with vitamin B complex, improved some cases of rosacea in people with low stomach-acid production.12 Similarly, improvement in rosacea has been reported anecdotally after supplementation with pancreatic digestive enzymes, and a controlled study found that rosacea patients produced less pancreatic lipase than healthy people.13 Controlled trials are needed to evaluate the effects of hydrochloric acid and digestive enzyme supplements in rosacea. Hydrochloric acid supplements should not be taken without the supervision of a healthcare practitioner.

 

A topical preparation of retinaldehyde (a prescription form of vitamin A) may be effective in treating people with mild rosacea. In a small, preliminary trial, women with rosacea used a retinaldehyde cream (0.05%) once daily for six months.14 Inflammation was improved in most participants, and blood vessel abnormalities responded in about half the people after six months. Controlled research is needed to confirm these effects. Retinaldehyde cream is available by prescription only and should be used only under the supervision of the prescribing physician.

Are there any side effects or interactions with acne rosacea?

Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.

Herbs that may be helpful for acne rosacea

Historically, tonic herbs, such as burdock, have been used in the treatment of skin conditions. These herbs are believed to have a cleansing action when taken internally.15 Burdock root tincture may be taken in 2 to 4 ml amounts per day. Dried root preparations in a capsule or tablet can be used at 1 to 2 grams three times per day. Many herbal preparations combine burdock root with other alterative herbs, such as yellow dock, red clover, or cleavers. In the treatment of acne rosacea, none of these herbs has been studied in scientific research.

Are there any side effects or interactions with acne rosacea?

Refer to the individual herb for information about any side effects or interactions.

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