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Alternative treatments for rosacea

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Rosacea is a complex disease that has several approaches to treating it. On one hand of the spectrum, there are home remedies such as diet and herbal treatments, which are mild but may not work in some cases. On the other, prescription medicines that are quite strong.

There is also the third type of treatments that fall between the medicine and cosmetology and may be frowned upon by medical doctors. Alternative treatments are not usually covered by health insurance and are paid out of pocket.

Laser, IPL, and dermabrasion treatments are scientifically proven to help rosacea. Ayurveda is a whole different medicine system but it’s principles align with current western medicine thinking. Homoeopathy is yet another set of beliefs but western medicine strongly opposes its use.

Can laser treatment help rosacea?

A laser is a powerful, focused light that is widely used in cosmetics and dermatology. In the last decades, laser treatment has become one of the standard methods in rosacea symptoms treatment. The laser delivers a strong pulse of yellow light to the inflamed blood vessels and collapses them, causing the skin redness to subside.

The treatment in special clinics starts from a consultation that should determine the laser is the right treatment for you. If it is, this is followed by a test session where the laser is applied to a small patch of skin. If there are no significant side effects, there will be 2 - 4 additional sessions a month apart. The number of sessions depends on the severity of the condition and skin response.

The main side effect is bruising in places of treatment that take up to a week to subside. After prolonged treatment, hyperpigmentation may develop.

Does intense pulsed light (IPL) work on rosacea?

Intense pulsed light (IPL) is a visible, broad-spectrum pulse of light, usually delivered via a hand-held device. It is similar to a laser that is also used for skin treatments but has a broader range of light wavelength.

IPL has shown to work in rosacea in clinical trials. IPL acts via selectively heating up skin pigments (melanin, hemoglobin). In the case of rosacea treatment, it leads to the collapse of spider veins, spots, and pustules. After an initial consultation, you can expect 3 - 6 sessions of around 30 minutes each once a month.

Side effects include bruising, blistering, change in skin colour.

Does microneedling help rosacea?

Microneedling is a procedure when small needles placed on a roller applied to the skin. The standard dermaroller has a long handle with a drum-shaped cylinder at one end studded with rows and circular arrays of fine microneedles, usually 0.5–3 mm in length and 0.1–0.25 mm in diameter. It is rolled over face skin puncturing the skin, which increases collagen production and skin repair. The procedure is performed 4 - 6 times a month apart.

Micropcunctures increase the production of collagen, making skin firmer, and reducing pores. Research shows that microneedling is effective in milder forms of rosacea.

Does microneedling make rosacea worse?

Microneedling was introduced as a cosmetic procedure for skin rejuvenation. However, it is an effective treatment of milder forms of rosacea.

There are no systematic studies of the adverse effects of microneedling on rosacea. However, it is known that skin redness immediately after the procedure is a common side effect. If you have severe rosacea, contact your doctor for advice.

Is microdermabrasion ok for rosacea?

Microdermabrasion is a removal of the skin cells layer by blasting it with abrasives such as aluminum and vitamin C crystals from a hand-held device. The dead cells are then removed by vacuum. Microdermabrasion effectively removes fine lines and minor blemishes. It works on all skin types and does cause strong side effects. 4 - 6 sessions that last 30 minutes are required.

Side effects are redness and swelling but they subside quicker than in case of laser treatment.

Microdermabrasion is a stronger form of exfoliation. Mechanical exfoliation is not used in rosacea, because the skin is hypersensitive. Do not use dermabrasion if you have rosacea as it will worsen your symptoms.

Can homeopathy totally cure rosacea?

Homeopathy is one of the alternative treatments for rosacea. Homeopathy is an opposite of allopathy e.g. traditional Western medicine. Homeopathy is built on an idea that a cause of the disease, diluted that there is fewer than one molecule in a swimming pool will cure the disease.

In clinical trials, homeopathic remedies do not perform better than placebo e.g. sham treatments. Homeopathic remedies can alleviate rosacea symptoms acting via autosuggestion. However, it’s unlikely that homeopathy will cure rosacea in the absence of other treatments.

Ayurveda for rosacea

Ayurveda is an alternative medicine system originating from India. Ayurveda is a holistic system that promotes a healthy lifestyle in the belief that it will reduce the symptoms. The main parts are rest, diet and exercise. It also uses herbal treatments combined with fasting and massage. In Ayurveda rosacea can be healed by cooling the body and healing digestion with herbs and diet.

As you can see, Ayurveda’s recommendations aligned with cosmetology and Western medicine advice.

Can rosacea be cured by Ayurveda? As with any natural treatment, the effect of Ayurvedic medicine is highly variable depending on the patient and the practitioner. However, there are some scientific reports that Ayurvedic preparations can improve symptoms of rosacea.


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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