RosaceaNet Article
The Good and Bad of "All Natural" Therapy for Rosacea

If you are using an “all natural” therapy not offered by your dermatologist to help control rosacea, be sure to mention this during your next appointment. A recent survey found that patients with rosacea often try “all natural” products and are not aware that these therapies have potential side effects and can interact with treatment prescribed by a dermatologist.

These findings come from a dermatology clinic where dermatologists suspected that many of their patients were using natural therapies. To find out just how popular these treatments were with their patients, the dermatologists surveyed patients. Twenty-two percent of patients with rosacea said that they have tried an alternative or complementary therapy.

When asked why they tried the therapy, most patients said they “liked the idea of a natural treatment.” Fewer than half of the patients, only 38%, felt that the alternative or complementary therapy improved their skin. The treatments most often used were naturopathic therapy and herbs.

None of the patients surveyed said that they were aware that alternative and complementary therapies have potential side effects. Yet, 8% reported that they had a “bad reaction.” Most patients said they stopped using the complementary or alternative therapy. The top reason: Treatment was ineffective. Others felt that the therapy was less helpful than conventional medicine.

What Dermatologists Recommend
Patients should know any product or treatment that promises to eliminate rosacea in a few days or weeks is just too good to be true. There is currently no cure for rosacea. If there were, your dermatologist would tell you. Research shows that following a treatment plan proves most effective. For treating rosacea, dermatologists recommend:

  • Follow the treatment prescribed by your dermatologist. Each subtype of rosacea — there are four — requires different treatment.

  • Keep follow-up appointments with your dermatologist. Seeing your dermatologist as recommended will allow the doctor to customize your treatment plan for best results. Sometimes a patient needs another medication added to the treatment plan, a dose modified, or a change in the skin care routine to get the desired results. Speak honestly with your dermatologist.

  • Use appropriate skin care products. Skin affected by rosacea is extremely sensitive. Trying to find rosacea-friendly products can be frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive. Your dermatologist is your best source of information for product recommendations. A dermatologist can recommend a gentle cleanser, rosacea-friendly moisturizer, appropriate sunscreen, and other skin care products.

  • Learn what causes your rosacea to flare, and avoid these triggers as much as possible. Common rosacea triggers include unprotected sun exposure, stress, drinking alcoholic beverages, and eating spicy foods. If you are not sure what causes your rosacea to flare, keeping a flare-up diary can help you identify your triggers.

Adding an Herbal Remedy
A few dermatologists are reporting that when they add a carefully chosen herb to some patients’ treatment plans, the results are better than with medication alone. While this news is promising, dermatologists caution that more research is needed. It is still not clear why a few patients may benefit and others see their rosacea worsen. The long-term effects of these herbal remedies are not known. Proper doses have not been determined. The concentration of herbs can vary from product to product and even from batch to batch.

Before adding an herbal remedy or other “all natural” product, be sure to talk with your dermatologist. As mentioned above, some “all natural” remedies, including several herbs, can make rosacea worse. Other products cause unwanted side effects.

And, if your dermatologist asks you about what skin care products, supplements, and other therapies you are using, be sure to mention everything. Knowing all of this will help your dermatologist create the most effective treatment plan for you.

Del Rosso JQ. "'Therapeutic’ Treatments for Rosacea." Presented as a poster (P582) at the 65th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. February 2007; Washington, DC. (Support for an educational grant identified.)

Mc Aleer M et al. "Complementary and alternative medicine use in rosacea and psoriasis patients." Presented as a poster (P562) at the 65th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. February 2007; Washington, DC. (No commercial support identified.)

Schwanke, J. “Herbal therapy for rosacea.” Dermatology Times. November 2006. p. 50.

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