April 3, 2015 | by Kim Gittere Abson MD

There are an estimated 16 million people in the U.S. suffering from rosacea-related inflammation. Rosacea causes a consistently flushed face and often small red bumps resembling acne. It tends to occur most frequently in middle-aged women with fair skin. Many report that the condition causes pain and discomfort, as well as embarrassment and anxiety that negatively impact their self-confidence and interpersonal relationships.

While the cause of rosacea is still unknown, research suggests multiple triggers for the inflammation:

  • Alcohol
  • Exercise
  • Spicy foods/hot foods and beverages
  • Sun
  • Temperature extremes

Recent studies have further shown that microscopic Demodex mites may also contribute. While the mites are harmless inhabitants on everyone’s skin (yes, we all have them), they may appear in greater numbers on the faces of people with rosacea.

Now there is a novel treatment option recently approved by the FDA. The Polyclinic’s Clinical Research Department was involved in the multi-center, phase 3 study of the medication. The Polyclinic had one of the largest enrollments in the study group.

The active ingredient of the drug, ivermectin, has been reported to have both an anti-inflammatory effect that reduces skin flushing and an anti-parasitic activity that kills the skin mites. In clinical studies, the effects of the treatment were seen as early as week 2, with continuous improvements in patients with inflammatory rosacea.

Before this medication became available, antibiotics were the standard treatment for rosacea, though typically not effective in reducing the skin flushing. The new treatment appears to have effects on both the pimple-like or pus-like bumps and the redness, with patients showing longer term remissions of both symptoms.

If you think you might have rosacea, talk with your primary care doctor or dermatologist.