Treating Rosacea with Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Written by on November 1, 2012 in Natural Treatments, Rosacea Fact Sheets with 38 Comments

What is an `Essential’ Oil?

I fear that the name Essential Oil is immediately misleading.

Just having the word essential there supposes that the oil is some kind of necessary oil, in the sense that some nutrients are essential for human life.

Oil is “essential” in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent, or essence, of the plant.

Wikipedia tells us that “Essential oils do not form a distinctive category for any medical,  pharmacological, or culinary purpose”.

So, surely a better name would be Distinctive Oils ? Want to start a movement to rename them?

How Do Essential Oils Work?

Any beneficial effect of Distinctive, I mean Essential Oils are said (by the article cited below) to be via the blood supply to the brain and an indirect effect via the `olfactory nerve pathways’ to the brain. The olfactory pathway is the nerves the run from the nose to the brain.

Essential oils can also be absorbed in very small quantities by the skin as well as inhaled.

What about Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy uses essential oils and other aromatic compounds to affect one’s mood or health.

According to wikipedia, the scientific evidence for aromatherapy is weak and could only be considered as mildly encouraging for a limited set of possible uses. Proponents of aromatherapy suggest that there are 2 main ways that the therapy works; firstly by the influence of the aroma on the brain, and secondly by the pharmacological effects of the essential oils.

Unlike acupuncture, aromatherapy is considered a largely Western treatment regime. The delivery of aromatherapy can be via aerial diffusion, inhalation or directly on the body. Many of the potentially interesting essential oils, like lavender oil, eucalyptus oil for eg. may also be useful as a topical treatment in their own right.

Published Paper on Rosacea and Essential Oils

This Review Article was published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutial & Biological Archives.

Whilst Case Studies and Technical Notes are peer reviewed, Review Articles are not. Thus this paper is not peer reviewed.

The best snippet of information I could find in this review article is the rather vague statement

“Aloe, Burdock, Chamomile, Vetiver, Rosemary, geranium and various extracts are the ingredients employed for treatment of Rosacea”

Not particularly satisfying is my first thought.


Vyas, Niharika. Rosacea Treatment using Essential oils and Plant Extract.

International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archive 3.3 (2012).

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition of the facial skin that affects the blood vessels along with the pilosebaceous units.

Rosacea is commonly seen in the people having fair complexion belonging to the north and the west Europe, although it may affect the people of any skin color.The symptoms may wax and wane during the short term, Rosacea may also progress with time.

The patient complaints of flushing, blushing and sensitive skin, and their skin may be especially irritated with the topical preparations.

FDA approved standard treatments include azelaic acid, metronidazole, oral antibiotics like tetracyclines, in particular minocycline and doxycycline. Topical treatments include clindamycin, subantimicrobial-dose doxycycline and sulfur products. Azithromycin and controlled release minocycline may be the options for Rosacea treatment, but they are not approved by the FDA as a proper agent for Rosacea treatment.

Natural treatment may be an answer for the expensive prescribed medications by comparatively overcoming the side effects that are associated to them.

By the use of natural moisturizing ingredients the patient may get the entire cure they need for effective Rosacea treatment; Aloe, Burdock, Chamomile, Vetiver, Rosemary, geranium and various extracts are the ingredients employed for treatment of Rosacea.

The review outlines the Rosacea treatment by Cosmeceutical formulations constituting essential oils and herbal extracts. The objective of this study was to highlight the treatment of Rosacea using the herbal extract and essential oils overcoming the side effects produced by antimicrobial drugs

Is There Any Hope?

Do you think the hope that essential oils or aromatherapy holds promise for Rosacea will ever be realised?

What would you say to someone who is looking for these to offer them a treatment option?

How about yourself; have you ever found relief from a well known natural oil based therapy ?

Before this this topic dies a slow silent death, please leave a comment below.

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About the Author

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

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38 Reader Comments

  1. Becky says:

    I recently started using lavender oil, using coconut oil as the carrier oil. I have noticed a difference:)

    • Jen says:

      Essential oils worked for me and they continue to work. Recently, I contracted a bacterial infection on my face through a rosacea bump, which spread over my face and caused serious problems with my prescribed rosacea medicine. Because of this reaction, I can no longer use normal meds on my face. Anyway, in a search for a better anti-bacterial solution to treat the bacterial I found essential oils that work! My hot flushing, pimples, and redness have gone! I’ve learned recently that Dermodex mites are a likely cause for rosacea since they are found 16 to 18 times on the face of someone with rosacea. Also, I learned recently I have celiac which be a major contributor to skin issues. Anyway, by controlling these mites I can control my rosacea. Essential oils vary in health benefits and application, but many have antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal properties. I use Lavender and tea tree with coconut oil as a carrier oil. Look into medical sites supported by true homeopathic doctors who specialize in self-healing remedies to ensure you get good advice. Essential oils are highly concentrated extracted from the plant. If you choose this route, I recommend buying organic ONLY. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to absorb into your skin, and chemicals from non-organically grown extracts I believe would not be helpful.

      I hope this helps.

  2. Josh Nielson says:

    Hello Becky.. What do you mean by “carrier oil”?

    • Cortney Fowles says:

      An oil that helps it with absorption, not allowing it to move through the skin too quickly as well as possibly avoiding irritation.

  3. Paula Schmitz says:

    I guess Becky wanted to say that the coconut oil carries the lavender oil as the latter -like most essential oils- is concentrated so you would typically add a few drops to the mix before applying? I´m 100% for natural products, but the only cream I used once, which was made with Bach flowers extracts, didn´t work and irritated my skin further. I would be more than happy to try the combination suggested in this article, but do we know any company that makes it? Or is there a way we could get the amounts of each component in the prescription so we can order it from our local compounding pharmacy? I would be great to know! Thank you for posting the interesting info! LOVE it!

  4. Lucas says:

    I’ve never tried essential oils, afraid that most of them would be irritating. But I could see chamomile oil working.

  5. Johnabetts says:

    “So, surely a better name would be Distinctive Oils ? ”

    A better name would be a reversion to the older term “volatile oils”. This would distinguish them from “fixed oils” such as coconut, olive, ooh, I don’t know, hundreds of different kinds, all characterised by being non-volatile.

    If we do that, though, fixed oils can further be differentiated into liquid fats (glyceryl esters of alkanoic (fatty acids)) and liquid waxes (jojoba oil is one of the examples of this rare category).

    A fat is defined as a glyceryl ester of an alkanoic acid which is solid at room temperature – this is somewhat loose as in temperate climates some items described as oils are more usually classed as fats – coconut oil is an example.

    A wax is an ester of a long chain alkanol and a long chain alkanoic acid. There is no glyceryl component as in fats. Examples of waxes are beeswax and carnauba. There are numerous others.

    Hydrocarbon compounds are another story completely. They can take the form of gases, volatile oily materials, fixed oily materials, waxy materials but do not fit in the definition of the previously described products.

  6. Lorraine says:

    I have not tried oils, but i tried everything else, a special soap with some kind of essential oil in it, it didnt help at all. I stopped with the the prescription Orecia, it was not doing anything, and is very expensive. I am currently using Rodan & Fields Soothe line. I am having positive results and it’s only been a week. This is not an ad for their products, but I thought that nothing else has worked so I am giving it a try.

  7. Kristyn says:

    The best solution I’ve found for myself is the oil cleaning method. I use 10% castrol oil, 10% grapeseed oil, a few drops of chamomile, I use a Jojoba Oil and Almond Oil mixture as the carrier oils. No soap ever touches my face. I also mix Jojoba oil and Almond oil together as a moisturizer and use Clinique redness solutions daily relief cream. This may not work for everyone, I have very dry skin but after having stuck to this regiment for a month my complexion is better than it has been in years and I no long even bother with base makeup or primers.
    Also Gotu Kola taken internally helps with skin health and drinking lots and lots of water.
    This isn’t an overnight relief but long term benefits have been worth the wait.

  8. Kristyn says:

    Make sure when using ‘essential’ oils, and yes volatile oils would be a much better name, do NOT use alot, these are very strong, ask the herbalist at your local hollistic store to help you come up with a mixture. Carrier oils are used to carry other oils like castrol oil which is very thick and needs some thinning and to dilute stronger oils like volatile oils as some of these could irritate your skin with concentrated contact.

  9. Johnabetts says:


    I think you mean castor oil (Ricinus communis) not Castrol oil which is a mineral oil based automotive lubricant.

    The distinction is important to anyone who might follow your recommendations – Castrol should NEVER be applied to the skin.

  10. Kristyn says:

    Very true, I was up late when I was reading this, thank you very much, wouldn’t want anyone putting car oil on their face, typos happen so remember to always do your own research.

  11. hautquartier says:

    I’m a german skin therapist specialized in holistic treatment of problematic skin like Acne, Rosacea, Eczema, allergies and Psoriasis.

    We have very good results on our rosacea clients with squalan-oil (this is not squalene!) and water(not to hot) for cleaning the skin. It should be a “pure” oil, as if you use to many different oils it could force a reaction or irritation. With “pure” I mean the specification of the oil should be ok. No toxins in it, because toxins could cause a flush and a very good quality.

    Cleaning your skin with squalane oil and water is the softest cleanse for your delicate skin and our clients notice the difference in a week.

    You just use a soft washing cloth (please change it daily due to bacteria) or soft cotton pads, wet them thoroughly with warm water and add 4 – 10 drops of the squalanoil. Then clean gently your face, without to much rubbing.

    I’m sorry that I can’t recommend an american brand for the squalanoil, as I work with my german products. But I would be happy if I could help!

    warm regards,

    silke from hautquartier®

  12. Johnabetts says:

    Squalane (or even squalene) is not an essential oil/volatile oil and it is inappropriate for it to be considered under this header.

  13. hautquartier says:

    Dear Johnabetts,

    my purpose is to help people suffering from rosacea, not to be a “know-it-all”.

    Squalan as a natural component of human skin is very recommendable for cleaning the face.

    Meanwhile essential oils are known for sometimes causing allergic reactions.
    I could imagine even more reactions if you suffer from a heavy rosacea where your stratum corneum is damaged and your Langerhans cell is able to reach the intruders.
    (If someone is interested, i could explain more about how our skin – the biggest immunologic organ we have works, but I don’t want to overdo things).
    Therefore I wouldnt recommend essential oils for “skincare in generally” at all.
    It is like antibiotics: if you really need it in short term to fight pathogenic bacterias, you should use it and it may be good for you, but nobody would use it constantly beacuse there are always bacteria who have to be fought.

    Anyway, I have an holistic philosophy and make root cause analysis with my clients, so I don’t know, if my point of view is welcome here.

    On the other hand:
    “How about yourself; have you ever found relief from a well known natural oil based therapy ?”
    As I understood David Pascoe, who wrote this article, I was also welcome to write what I think about a natural oil based therapy, which I did.

    Just some explanations:
    Here in Europe Squalanoil is made of OLIVE oil, not like in the USA where squalane oil is mostly made of Shark-liver-oil, which is indeed totally inappropriate.

    The Squalanoil we use has these specifications:
    Olive Derived Squalane
    INCI: Squalane
    The unsaponifiable fraction of Olive Oil contains, as a predominant component, the natural hydrocarbon, Squalene. Hydrogenation of this unsaponifiable fraction provides OLIVE DERIVED SQUALANE.
    Low temperature chromatographic purification techniques which assure a final product of consistent high quality have been developed and no solvents are used at any stage of the manufacturing process for the production of Olive Derived SQUALANE.
    Olive Derived SQUALANE is stable. No preserving agents or antioxidants are incorporated. It is equivalent to the human sebum and presents perfect compatibility with the skin.
    Completely non-toxic, without color or odor, Olive Derived SQUALANE is perfectly adapted to modern up-market cosmetic formulations. No animal testing has been carried out.

    Now I hope, no one is offended by my point of view and I wasn’t off base, when I answered.

  14. Johnabetts says:

    The subject of this blog is essential oils/volatile oils/aromatherapy. It is not concerned with squalane or fixed oils except insofar as my drawing attention vital differences in characteristics.

    I am more than happy to accept your explanation of the properties of squalane but it should have its own article and not be (confusingly) included in a column primarily concerned with materials having completely different properties and actions.

    I do think you are off-base by writing about squalane in this particular blog but, equally, I am not offended by your point of view and feel that your presentation of the virtues of squalane would be far better served by a stand-alone article or editorial.

  15. majohnson says:

    I have had Rosacea and acne, sometimes cystic for over 20 years. I have been to many Dermatologists with no help, yes antibiotics, metrogel, differin, retinols, ok so I had a recent major flair up. I used raw organic manuka honey and purified water for 3 days for 3 hours each day and was completely cleared except for a few large cystic acne lesions that quickly healed in less than a week. Followed by Apple Cider Vinegar 50/50 ratio with water. I now use tea tree oil and lavender oil mixed with a carrier oil (grapeseed oil). I am amazed at the results as I have extremely sensitive skin and can no longer use any products prescription or otherwise. I remove makeup with Grapeseed oil. Twice a week mix baking soda with raw manuka honey 15+. Once a week I mix equal parts ACV with bentonite clay for 30 minutes. So for anyone who says essential oils are useless, I would strongly disagree!!!

    • Sally jean says:

      Amen Manuka honey is the best

    • Hey there,
      I totally know this thread is old!
      Do you still use this method and could you explain it more to me?
      What do you mean for 3 hours with the honey and water and how did you then do the apple cider vinegar?
      Just looking for some specific steps to your process throughout the week.

  16. Paula says:

    Great news, thank you for sharing!

  17. majohnson says:

    No problem…I know its miserable to have irritated, red, sore, itchy, and acneic skin. I have helped many friends with similar issues including eczema, psoriasis, seborric dermatitis as well. I also use only mineral makeup ( bare minerals to be exact) and a physical sunscreen. But I have received the most help from raw honey and essential oils!

  18. Paula says:

    I found both contributions (majohnson and hautquartier’s) incredibly valuable as I’m 100 % for a holistic approach to medicine, and for natural treatments. If these therapies work, they have the extra benefit of NOT adding toxins to our system as all drugs do. We should compile these protocols and post them to other relevant sites! Thanks much for taking the time to write them up for this community! 🙂

    • Tammy says:

      Paula, I totally agree with you! I too enjoyed hautquartier’s and majohnson’s comments and knowledge. Thank you for saying so!

  19. majohnson says:

    I so agree Paula, and support anyone who finds a healthy all natural remedy. We have become accustomed to too many artificial man made ways to fix it quick! Unfortunately they dont always work, can cause longterm side effects, and are quite expensive!!

  20. Mehdi says:

    I was diagnosed with rosacea more than 4 years ago. At the moment, (I think), my rosacea is cured. In the following I am glad to explain my struggle with rosacea.

    Mine was a type one rosacea. Severe facial erythema, flushing, blushing, intense burning … I tried almost everything; mainly Doxycycline 100mg, metronidazole, metrogel, Finacea gel 15% and some steroid cream (I don’t remember the name exactly). Then I came across following links in the group

    and decided to use permethrin cream. I was satisfied with the result. The redness was gone (almost more than 50%). However I could not manage to get rid of the redness completely. In order to manage redness, I used to mix three drops of alphagan eye drop with two drops of water and applied it on my face for. I did it for almost more than a year. It was about 2/3 months ago that I came across the following link

    according to the link, rosacea “might” be due to the bacteria carried by demodex mite. At that time I decided to apply permethrin + metronidazole gel. I was thinking that I should kill demodex mites and bacteria at the same time.
    I was so excited with the results. I did not have any sense of burning on my face. The redness has gone to high extent. The result was so good that I even stopped applying alphagan. I was convinced that my rosacea was a result of demodex mites and bacteria carried by them.
    Three weeks ago I was searching for better/alternative medication for demodex mites and read about tea tree oil (TTO). I decided to give a try to it as well. I have applied TTO for two weeks now. I am just about to flyyy… so happy that my rosacea is almost (I would say more than 95%) gone. Although TTO is extremely harsh but is the ideal medication for me.

    My profession is not medicine but I would recommend you to discuss with your GP about applying permethrin and antibiotic(oral/topical). If rosacea symptoms improved, do not doubt to use TTO.

    I have my pictures at different stage of my rosacea. If somebody need, I can send. You would absolutely observe the difference.

    • David says:

      What mix did you use to dilute the TTO?

      • Mehdi says:

        I do not dilute it. to be honest, pure TTO is very harsh. my face gets red and flaking because of TTO but I had to bear because I did not have any other solution that works as good as TTO. the good news is that I apply TTO a week every two/three months.

        recently I read some news about the effect of Ivermectin which is used for killing demodex mites. anyway, whether demodex mites are the cause of rosacea or a condition because of rosacea, according to my experience killing demodex mites and bacterias is very helpful in controlling the redness and stinging.

        anyway, if you cannot apply TTO, consult to your GP about applying Permethrin or Ivermectin along with Mertonidazole gel.

        • Evie Fishkin says:

          I’ve been dx almost 2 months. At first it was a pimple which is out of the ordinary. It itched so I scratched. Then there were about three and then it looked like I had the measles and then the red face. My eye lids swelled up. I thought I had caught a horrible disease or it was the measles. I went to derm and she said classic rosacea.

          I spent a lot of money even on prescription drugs. The Mertonidazole gel broke me out worse. I used it only once and that is after my face was almost cleared up.

          What’s working for me is Tea Tree Oil mixed with Laventor oil. I’ve also used cloves essential oil. I use a mild soap to clean skin (for rosacea). In the mornings I now use a little organic skin care mixed with lavender oil. Before going to bed I begun to use the new med for rosacea…Soolantra. I can only handle it for 30 minutes. I wash my face again, and then put on Proacea for the night. It is a sulfur and works fantastic. In the morning my face is just about completely clear..

          I am almost clear of rosacea. I did not alter my diet. I sit out in the sun when I can for at least 15 minutes. I do red light therapy at least twice a week.
          My eyes are no longer swelling. I rarely have a red spot or am I itchy. I still have to treat my face to kill the mites/also treat the bacteria from the mites.

          But…I will get a few spots on my neck and or chest area. It’s not over yet, but feel confident it is in control and once the mites are gone, I will be over it.

  21. Lis says:

    Tea tree oil and Lavender oil have had a brilliant result in helping my rosacea. I use a couple of drops of each mixed into a pure cream or carrier oil such as coconut oil morning and night and have seen a massive difference over two to three months. Hope this helps.

    • Jolene says:

      Lis – Do you use a specific oil company? Is there a blend of the two? Or you just buy the two and mix it like a lotion?

      • Rebecca Horn says:

        Young Living Essential Oils. Tons of research out there using their products. They also have a beauty line that is excellent support for our skin.

    • Evie Fishkin says:

      Yep, this is pretty much what I do except for adding Proroscea that I buy at Walgreens. I added Soolantra…the jury is out on this one.

      • David says:

        This is probably not the best spot but I received an update that linked me here and I’ve meant to do this awhile ago.

        Out of nowhere I was hit with “rosacea”. I tried the soap, creams, etc. I think most was psychological than anything else as some appeared to work better than others. I had some fullness in my stomach and though to ask my doctor about it in which he prescribed me “Dexilant”. It appeased my stomach fullness/overbloating, and I saw some moderate results as far as my rosacea. Approximately, three months after being on the medicine I had a regular IV flush. Not vitamins, just a regular IV. Ever since these events I have been 100% clear without any set backs or even “close calls” with rosacea. Things that would easy trigger my rosacea do nothing of the sort anymore. I know how desperate we can be when trying to find a cure and/or relief, so I would absolutely recommend this strategy and hope that it works for others.

  22. Angela says:

    Can any one talk more about how you are using these treatments? There are a lot of answers of formulas here but not much mention of methods. Do you apply with hands? Soft towel? Do you leave on? Rinse off? What’s your method for make up removal? ( I’d ideally like to stop wearing make-up but sometime is needed for confidence :/ ) What time of day? Morning/night?


  23. Rebecca Horn says:

    I would like to suggest researching Young Living Essential Oils. Lots of research about their products, and they aren’t just about oils. They have many products that support full body health. If we have a challenge in one area, we need to look at the whole body for support. It’s a synergistic process. Our gut is most important for full-body support for immunity as the gut supports at least 75% of our immune system. Probiotics are necessary for gut health. YL has beauty products infused with oils as well that support healthy skin. The company has been around for over 20 years, with a Seed to Seal process (they control the seeds, planting [they own their own farms, of which we are welcome to visit any time at a moment’s notice]), harvesting, distillation and extraction of their own oils. Purely organic, they look for land that has never been touched by chemicals. And when extraction is complete, they compose what is left, feeding their crops and using discarded, less-than-quality-produced oils for pest and weed control (as well as muscle to weed). As one who uses their products, I am passionate about helping others achieve good health. In today’s environment, our bodies need help! All are welcome to reply here if you want more information. Or go to for more information. You can also google and find research.

  24. Carrie says:

    I can give you all a link to an aromatherapist and ask for the hydrosol blend for rosacea that I had her custom make for me and it does work. I also have another link for a friend that has handmade a moisturizer for me and has a sea kelp all natural soap and they all work. You have to balance your skin in addition treat and/or prevent rosacea acne, keep your skin hydrated, moisturized every day. The moisturizer has a sunscreen in it and it does NOT soak into the skin as it’s only uncoated non-nano zinc oxide, a preservative that has NO parabens and such. I wash my face when I wake up and before bed and us the hydrosol after each wash. I use the moisturizer during the day. When washing your face do not use a wash cloth, only use your fingers and massage lightly and rinse with lukewarm water. After washing use a very soft towel and pat dry. (P.S) you also have to prevent and/or treat the spider veins that appear from rosacea. What I have told you covers everything. Let me know if you want the links to buy. Also, if you want the hydrosol may I suggest using the cucumber hydrosol for cooling your face. And you can also use the witch hazel hydrosol by spraying it on a cotton ball or cotton face pad to areas highly affected. Witch Hazel in a hydrosol will NOT irriate rosacea but it will help it drastically.

  25. Carrie says:

    And ladies I can recommend where to buy all natural fruit pigmented make-up that will not affect rosacea but actually helps it. If I can get your emails I will refer you for that. It’s more expensive but the products last longer and are safe.

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