Rosacea is a chronic condition that cannot be cured. Therefore, it's important to use rosacea medicine regularly, not just for flare-ups. People with mild cases of rosacea may only need to apply a topical antibiotic to the skin. For people with severe cases, medication may also include oral antibiotics. Keep in mind that it can take weeks to months before an improvement is seen.
Although there is no rosacea cure, different types of medication can help treat and control this condition. The goals of rosacea treatment are to:
- Control symptoms
- Improve the appearance of the skin.
Many patients can reduce or eliminate the need for medication by avoiding factors that trigger rosacea flare-ups. If medication is needed, it may take several weeks or months of treatment before any improvements in the skin are noticed.
For mild cases of rosacea, doctors may prescribe a topical antibiotic, such as benzoyl peroxide or metronidazole, that is applied directly to the affected skin once or twice daily. Doctors may also prescribe azelaic acid cream for mild rosacea. Although azelaic acid is as effective as metronidazole in treating mild rosacea, it tends to have more side effects.
For severe cases of rosacea, doctors often prescribe an antibiotic taken by mouth, such as tetracycline, minocycline, erythromycin, or doxycycline. The papules (pink bumps) and pustules (bumps with pus inside) symptomatic of rosacea will usually respond quickly to this type of medication. However, the redness and flushing are less likely to improve.
These types of medications are effective in about three-quarters of all rosacea patients within a few months after starting treatment. Some people also find that antibiotic treatment not only relieves their acne, but also decreases facial redness.
Tretinoin is another rosacea drug that may be prescribed. However, this is often prescribed along with oral antibiotics.