The Official Rosacea Treatments

Written by on December 15, 2009 in research foundation with 12 Comments

Authored by a who’s who of Rosacea Experts, the National Rosacea Society has again brought about a publication that puts a stake in the ground for rosacea treatment and management.

Some History

Briefly some history: In 2002, the National Rosacea Society Expert Committee reported on a standard classification system that identified primary and secondary features of rosacea and described 4 common patterns of signs and symptoms designated as subtypes. In 2004, the committee published a standard grading system for assessing the relative severity of rosacea to enhance the utility of the classification system for researchers and clinicians.

As we have always known, the classification system for rosacea is provisional and based on what can be observed rather than any common understanding of what causes rosacea (pathogenesis) or assumed progression of symptoms between the defined subtypes.

Now, the committee has developed standard management options for rosacea. The committee was expanded to include additional experts in dermatology, skin care, laser therapy and ophthalmology.

Many of the rosacea experts credited as authoring this paper have links to pharmaceutical companies, and their links are listed. Interestingly Dr. Wilkin is listed as “a scientific and regulatory affairs consultant for 145 companies, including some that products for rosacea.” Wow that is a lot of consulting !

See also Standard Management Options 2: according to subtype.

My Review

Below is a summary of the 2009 Standard management options for rosacea, part 1. I have given a quick view of each section. For further details, including several disclaimers about the information supplied, see the full text of the paper. The PDF can be viewed here. I can also email a copy if you would like to read a copy for your own rosacea treatment.

The committee is emphasizing the importance of how lifestyle changes and skincare and understanding the particular role of a treatment to achieving the best results for an individual patient.

The standard management options are a menu, you aren’t meant to do them all, just pick and choose what is relevant for your symptoms.

Medical History

A medical history is seen as necessary as some features of rosacea may not be visible when you front up at a doctor’s surgery. Also some tricky alternative diagnoses must be eliminated first.

A few paragraphs are very similar to that Dr. Powell says in his book Rosacea Diagnosis and Management, Frank C. Powell. eg. sun sensitive skin as in heliodermatitis can be confused with the redness and broken blood vessels  (ETTR) or rosacea. Undiagnosed ocular involvement is another reason for a detailed medical history.

Drug Therapy

The papules and pustules of rosacea can be effectively treated by well known drugs like Finacea and Oracea which have been officially approved by the FDA for treating rosacea. Options for off-label medications will be detailed in Part 2 of this series.

The committee acknowledges the need for research into and treatments for the background redness of rosacea as this is a great unmet clinical need.

Laser and Light Therapy

Most lasers that treat the vascular component of rosacea have wavelengths in the 500-600nm range. Also mentioned also is long-pulsed dye lasers, the 532nm KTP laser along with IPL. The er:YAG and 10,600nm CO2 ablative lasers are also given a mention for subtype 3 of rosacea.

Lifestyle Management

This is the bit of rosacea therapy that always seems wanting to me. The committee is suggesting that rosacea sufferers keep a record of or try to avoid their triggers. This just seems so impractical for real life.

Adjunctive Care

Skin Care is an important component of rosacea management because of the sensitive and easily irritated nature of rosacea skin. If chemical sunscreens cause irritation, physical sunblocks using zinc or titanium dioxide are recommended.

As stinging most often occurs when the skin is wet, rosacea sufferers are advised to apply wait 5 – 30 minutes for the face to dry after gentle cleansing, before applying topicals.

Avoid any product that causes burning, stinging itching etc. Good advice, but may be quite hard to follow if one cannot find the perfect moisturiser or cleanser for their regime.

“New cosmetics should be regularly purchased to minimize microbial contamination and degradation”. That advice sounds expensive !


Overall there is little here that is new to most rosacea sufferers. This paper does though serve well as a starting point when trying to find a regime that will relieve your symptoms.

Certainly the weight of authors involved in this paper will go a long way to help convince your doctor that the advice herein is well heeded.

Those interested in a more thorough treatment of up to date rosacea treatment and diagnosis may be interested in my Book Review: Rosacea: Diagnosis and Management, Frank C. Powell which was written by one of the expert authors of this paper.

Standard management options for rosacea, part 1: overview and broad spectrum of care.

Cutis. 2009 Jul;84(1):43-7.

Odom R, Dahl M, Dover J, Draelos Z, Drake L, Macsai M, Powell F, Thiboutot D, Webster GF, Wilkin J; National Rosacea Society Expert Committee on the Classification and Staging of Roasacea. ( <- yes pubmed does indeed mis-spell rosacea!)

The standard management options were developed by a consensus committee and review panel of 26 experts to assist in providing optimal patient care based on the standard classification and grading systems for rosacea that were developed to perform research; analyze results and compare data from different sources; and provide a common terminology and reference for the diagnosis, treatment, and assessment of results in clinical practice. We discuss standard management options for rosacea in 2 parts: (1) overview and broad spectrum of care, and (2) options according to subtype. The options are considered provisional and may be expanded and updated as appropriate. Managing the various potential signs and symptoms of rosacea calls for consideration of a broad spectrum of care, and a more precise selection of therapeutic options may become increasingly possible as the mechanism of action of therapies are more definitively established.

[NEW]: Make way for Treating by Phenotype

Recent updates to the way that doctors are approaching their rosacea patients is to treat each phenotype separately.

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About the Author

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

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12 Reader Comments

  1. Peter says:

    Hello David

    It’s compiled by a who’s who of Rosacea Experts? I’m very wary of the term “rosacea expert” but I assume these are primarily dermatologists? You have mentioned a couple of names but do you know who the others are?

    I was fortunate to see a dermatologist who I rate as one of the best, especially with rosacea but it might help others to have a list of names and locations of the physicians with an interest in and a proven track record of treating rosacea. As we know there are a few quacks around so maybe a directory of those recognised in the medical world as proven “experts” in this particular area would be very useful for many people looking for the best treatment options.



  2. Hi Peter,

    Below is the list of experts who were involved in these 2 papers. There is of course no suggestion on my part that the authors see patients and would be helpful in a clinical setting, but nonetheless to have a history of publishing papers we know that they are the peak of the field of Dermatology.

    Sadly it is still the case that rosacea sufferers need to start their quest for relief by accessing a good doctor. A false step by visiting the wrong web sites for information or visiting a doctor with no experience will make that task all that much harder.

    • Richard Odom, MD, is from the Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco.
    • Mark Dahl, MD, is from the Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona.
    • Jeffrey Dover, MD, is from the Department of Dermatology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

    • Zoe Draelos, MD, is from Dermatology Consulting Services, High Point, North Carolina.

    • Lynn Drake, MD, is from the Department of Dermatology, Harvard University, Boston, Massachusetts.

    • Marian Macsai, MD, is from the Department of Ophthalmology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

    • Frank Powell, MD, is from the Department of Dermatology, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

    • Diane Thiboutot, MD, is from the Department of Dermatology Research, Penn State University, Hershey.

    • Guy F. Webster, MD, PhD, is from the Department of Dermatology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    • Jonathan Wilkin, MD, is from the National Rosacea Society Medical Advisory Board, Barrington, Illinois.

    Additionally, the following are thanked for their contributions and reviewing the paper;

    • Joel Bamford, MD, Duluth, Minnesota
    • Mats Berg, MD, Uppsala, Sweden
    • James Del Rosso, DO, Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Roy Geronemus, MD, New York, New York
    • David Goldberg, MD, JD, Hackensack, New Jersey
    • Richard Granstein, MD, New York, New York
    • William James, MD, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Albert Kligman, MD, PhD, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Mark Mannis, MD, Davis, California
    • Ronald Marks, MD, Cardiff, United Kingdom
    • Michelle Pelle, MD, San Diego, California
    • Noah Scheinfeld, MD, JD, New York, New York
    • Bryan Sires, MD, PhD, Kirkland, Washington
    • Helen Torok, MD, Medina, Ohio
    • John Wolf, MD, Houston, Texas
    • Mina Yaar, MD, Boston, Massachusetts


  3. Peter says:

    Thanks for the list David – it might help those who are looking for “experts” and not fall into the hands of the “quacks” out there.

    I would hope that these people know what they are talking about but there is very much an American bias there and it would be good to have seen more Europeans contributing, plus what about your part of the world?

    I recognise a couple of names there but surprised with the American bias that Larry Millikan MD wasn’t involved. I have read a couple of his rosacea articles and they were very good – I posted one up on your RSC Forum called “The Red Menace”.

  4. There certainly is a north america bias in the list of contributors – but I assume that is because the number of universities, schools, dermatologists, PhD students etc. is far far greater that any other country.

    It is nice to see Dr. Powell as a senior researcher and clinician as a European. From a small city like Dublin too.

    Here in Perth we have Dr. Drummond and also Daphne Su who I think has written the first PhD on rosacea.

    Would be great to see more and more from all around the world.

    I wonder how we encourage this ?


  5. D Henry says:

    David and Peter,
    Here it is folks. You heard this here, the health of your gums will show up on your face. WE all are wired a little bit different and this nerve pattern shows on the master plan of the face and nose too.
    I know in one such battle to win the blemish wars it just hit me like a shovel on the back of the head. My gums were in bad shape and this war was showing up on my nose area.
    I have gotten my face/nose in better shape now and I expect it will do better.
    I know doctors mean well and they have no idea what is causing this Rosacea we suffer, we put creams on the skin above the gums, however it is the inflamed gums under the skin showing up on the face and surrounding skin. I can tell you I have seen a difference as soon as I got the gums back in good condition and all the time I paid to the outer skin it was in fact the gums and teeth causing my issue on my face and me not putting in the time to fix the REAL problem and we are all impaired as we are totally focused on the outer layer of skin we forget the basics we were taught as a child, brush your damn teeth!!!
    D Henry

  6. Great to hear that you found some relief.

    You may know that low doses of doxycycline were found to be useful in both gum disease and rosacea papules/pustules.

    The anti-inflammatory effects of low doses of antibiotics are thought be important in the way it works for rosacea sufferers; more so than the bacteria killing aspects.

    So if you have a systemic inflammation problem then I would expect rosacea would not easily improve with just topicals.

    all the best,

  7. Adriana says:

    David thanks for the list ! Would you recommend a doctor in Florida?

  8. Sorry, I have no idea Adriana.

  9. donna yadan says:

    Hi David. My name is Donna. Just this past year I developed Rosacea. I
    live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Could you recommend a Dermatologist to me? Thank you. I enjoyed reading your article. Have you heard of a product called ZenMed? Is this product good for Rosacea? Please get back to me. sent 1/26/2014

  10. Hi Donna,

    There are some comments related to ZENMED here – ZENMED User Reviews. The reviews for this product are generally not good.

    all the best,

  11. stuart says:

    Hi david.ive followed this group for years without commenting or subscribing.whats your thoughts on kanuka honey treatment. Im asking because i feel like ive found treatment gold. Im a week and a half in and its amazing. Better than metrogel and finecea. Im ftom u.k. and it arrived 10 days after ordering. Expensive for the amount u get but as all sufferers know price doesnt matter if it helps alot.

  12. Luci De Andrade says:

    What are the exact mechanics of spices in causing flare-ups? I enjoy a mild picante sauce w/my eggs & was quite distressed to have read that spicy food can cause flare-ups. I was also wondering if there has been a legit dietary guideline created for Rosacea sufferers. If so, where might I get a copy of it? I have also read earlier this evening, this condition is most commonly found in those of Northern European descent. If that is indeed factual, then I have been hit w/a triple whammy. Any thoughts on these comments? Wishing everyone an AWESOME day. Luci

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