Rosacea is a common condition affecting more than 3 million Canadians. It can cause red bumps, spider veins, and flushing on your face. Rosacea typically affects people between the ages of 30 to 50. The primary goal of treatment is to reduce the signs and symptoms of the disease.

Your doctor may prescribe treatment based on the severity of your  symptoms, medical conditions, comorbidities, and other factors.

This article will discuss what treatment options are available for rosacea in Canada. 

What is Rosacea? A brief introduction

Rosacea is a skin condition that causes flushing that comes and goes on your cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. You may feel bumps on your skin’s surface that may feel a bit like acne. The bumps on the skin may be filled with pus. You may also see spider veins or a bumpy texture to your skin. The signs and symptoms of the condition may flare up for weeks to months and then disappear. Many times, rosacea is mistaken for acne or other skin problems. 

What are the main types of medications used to treat Rosacea?

If not treated, rosacea may worsen with time. Rosacea, at times, may seem like acne. However, self-treating it with over-the-counter acne medications may worsen your symptoms.

Your doctor can prescribe specific medications for rosacea and provide you with guidance on how to take good care of your skin to reduce symptoms. The duration of the treatment may vary depending on the severity of the symptoms. Often, treatment with medication for approximately 4 weeks will be enough to combat a flare-up. In more serious cases, you may need to use medication long term to keep rosacea in check. Depending on your symptoms, a combination of medications may work best to control your rosacea.

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The following medications are often used:

Top antibiotics

                           I.          Metronidazole

Metronidazole is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for treating rosacea. It is a topical agent and is a great option for those who do not want to take pills. Topical metronidazole is available in cream, lotion, or gel form. Metronidazole has  antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. It can be used long-term to keep rosacea symptoms in remission. Typically, people see improvements in their symptoms after two to six weeks.

                         II.          Doxycycline

Doxycycline is an antibiotic that belongs to the tetracycline class. Doxycycline is prescribed to be taken orally and is used for moderate to severe rosacea cases with bumps and pimples. It also demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties. Your doctor may initially prescribe you a 50-100 mg dose, taken once daily. Doxycycline may be prescribed for 6 – 12 weeks.

                       III.          Minocycline

Minocycline is also an antibiotic belonging to the tetracycline class. Minocycline can be taken orally, typically at lower doses than needed for treating infections. Like doxycycline, it exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. Minocycline is not prescribed as frequently because it can cause side effects like skin pigmentation or liver problems. Minocycline may be prescribed for 6 – 12 weeks. 

Top topical treatments

                           I.          Oxymetazoline

Oxymetazoline is a prescription medication that is used topically for treating rosacea. Topical agents are usually prescribed for mild to moderate rosacea. Oxymetazoline reduces flushing and redness by constricting your blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the treated area. You may see results within 12 hours of use. This action on the blood vessels is temporary, hence, the medication needs to be applied regularly, as prescribed by your doctor.

                         II.          Azelaic acid

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Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring compound that possesses anti-inflammatory and antibacterial activity. It is available as a topical agent. It helps control the symptoms of rosacea and is useful for mild to moderate cases.

                       III.          Brimonidine tartrate

Brimonidine tartrate belongs to the alpha-agonist class of medications. It is usually available as a topical cream to be applied once daily. This medication helps to manage the symptoms of rosacea (mainly redness). It reduces the redness by constriction of the blood vessels. Brimonidine tartrate is mainly prescribed for mild cases.

                       IV.          Ivermectin

Ivermectin belongs to the antiparasitic class of medication. It is a topical cream prescription medication that helps to reduce inflammatory lesions associated with rosacea in adults. The medication is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Other treatments

                           I.          Isotretinoin

If you have severe rosacea or are not responding to other treatment, your doctor may prescribe you isotretinoin. Isotretinoin helps reduce inflammation in the skin to improve rosacea symptoms. It may be particularly helpful for the type of rosacea with rough and bumpy skin texture, large pores, and thick nodules on the nose. It is a prescription medication belonging to the retinoids class of drugs.

                         II.          Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant that may help reduce rosacea symptoms. It helps to reduce redness and strengthen the broken blood vessels.         

               III.          Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring  substance found throughout our body, including in our skin, joints, eyes and more. In skin care products, hyaluronic acid acts as a moisturizer. This can be quite helpful for rosacea, where skin is often dry and irritated. Keeping your skin clean and moisturized is an important part of your rosacea treatment plan.

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