Book Review: Acne and Rosacea The Complete Guide, Alison Bowser

Written by on January 5, 2011 in reviews with 0 Comments


Author: Alison Bowser
Review Date: December 2010
We can read via twitter (and in the acknowledgments) that this book was proof read by Dr. Edward Seaton.
Available at

The book is written in 3 parts – 1. Acne (135 pages), 2. Rosacea (25 pages) and 3. Caring for Acne and Rosacea Skin (39 pages).

Alison Bowser tells us that she was the CEO of the now defunct Acne Support Group (the ASG ceased to exist in November 2007) and herself suffered 12 years of life-affecting acne.

Bowser is responsible for organising a series of patient rosacea education events around the UK and says that via the ASG has helped over 2 million people with acne and rosacea deal with the condition.

The ASG no doubt helped many people over the years that it is was in existence, but I was left puzzled as to how the figure of 2 million could be realised. This claim and the subtitle of the book being a `complete guide’ builds an expectation that the book will be something substantial.

Read on to see if the promised substance eventuates.

Chapter 1: What Causes Acne

For those most commonly used to reading about rosacea, a discussion about the cause of acne could be quite informative and worthwhile. The chapter discusses how a papule (red spot), pustule (yellow spot) and a black head develop in the skin. I was struck by how different they are, how differently they progress from nothing to a full blown lesion.

Chapter 2: Acne Facts

The chapter addresses the common questions and misbeliefs around acne. Like rosacea, there is a body of folklore around what causes the condition.

One question raised the possible relationship between acne and diet. Although the author says that no link exists, we do know from some recent research that a High Glycemic Diet can exacerbate acne.

Chapter 3: Acne Treatments

Acne Treatments are split into: First line treatments – ones that you can get without prescription and Second line treatments – ones that are prescribed by a doctor or nurse.

Azelaic acid is mentioned briefly as a `no longer used’ acne treatment, but from Rosacea News we know that recent research is showing how Azelaic Acid, in the form of Finacea for eg., is helpful in inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea.

There is a good discussion on the merits and risks of isotretinoin and a brief discussion of Light and Laser based therapies for acne.

Chapter 4: Alternative & Complementary Acne Treatments

From Acupressure to Zinc, this chapter covers 12 alternative acne therapies.

Chapter 5: Emergency Spot Solutions

This chapter was pretty eye opening to me, it discussed amongst other things the safest and least dangerous ways to squeeze a zit. Called the `Traffic Light Guide to Squeezing a Zit’ – you will just have to read the book to see for yourself what that entails.

Chapter 6: Acne Scarring

Chapter 6 is also not a particularly common topic for rosacea readers – acne scarring and the treatment options, and how to try to avoid them in the first place.

Chapter 7: Acne and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

I knew almost nothing about this condition before reading this section. Chapter 7 contains an excellent overview of what PCOS is, how it might lead to acne like symptoms and how it is treated. The chapter is based on an article prepared for the ASG by Dr.  Helen Mason.

Chapter 8: What is Rosacea?

The book now starts to get into rosacea specific territory.

We are told that rosacea was described as far back as 1899 (but we know from Frank Powell’s Rosacea Diagnosis and Management text book that rosacea was first described in 1813 by a former colleague of the English dermatologist Robert Willan). This further ads to the point that rosacea is not a newly described condition.

The chapter covers what is considered rosacea and some of the theories around its origins, as well as differential diagnosis and triggers.

Chapter 9: Treating Rosacea

Treatments for rosacea symptoms and subtypes are covered separately, but of course there is some overlap. Some alternative therapies are also discussed as well as a discussion on rosacea triggers.

Suggesting a mild exfoliator such as glycolic acid because it may target demodex mites because it may help some people seems like tenuous advice given that we know pretty well what kills demodex mites and also how care should be used with glycol acid.

Low dose doxycycline Efracea (as Oracea is known in the UK and Europe) is included in a list of topical antibiotics, but of course this is a systemic antibiotic.

Chapter 10: Skincare Routines for Acne and Rosacea

This chapter tells us that we should cleanse, moisturise and protect – against the sun – good advice. Includes advice for men, sun protection and visiting the beauty counter.

Chapter 11: Skin Camouflage and Make-up

Of interest to those in the UK is a NHS based service called British Red Cross Cosmetic Camouflage (Coscam) which can provide advice on skin camouflage. It would seem that the UK is leading in the area of professional camouflaging services. This sort of therapy could be an area that is interesting to rosacea sufferers looking to cover over their symptoms.

Chapter 12: Sun Protection

Living in Australia one becomes quite acute to exposure to the sun and protecting  yourself against the sun. This chapter felt too brief considering how much the sun is a factor for me, but it does provide an overview of the issues of sun exposure and how to choose and use a sunscreen.

Chapter 13: Feeling Good about Yourself

I was happy to see a chapter addressing the psychological aspects of acne and rosacea. Although brief, it is encouraging to see that readers will be exposed to the possible problems arising from the negative feelings that can come with suffering from acne and rosacea.

Serializing via The Daily Mail

The book has been featured in two editions of the Daily Mail via articles written by Alison Bowser;

What I would have liked to see

There are several areas of interest to rosacea sufferers that I would like to have seen get some coverage.

Laser and IPL Therapy is becoming a common form of rosacea therapy. Flushing medications and anti-redness therapies are becoming and more interesting to rosacea sufferers.

The emergence of low dose doxycycline and low dose accutane as viable rosacea treatments also doesn’t get the attention that I think it deserves.

Book Links


There are a few rosacea self help books that target newly diagnosed rosacea sufferers well. This book goes beyond an introductory self help level, to provide some good advice for rosacea sufferers.

Particularly strong on advice for acne, this book will additionally suit rosacea sufferers with an acne component to their symptoms, who are looking for some good sensible advice.

The book is available at

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About the Author

About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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