Find Relief Without A Prescription: Our Favorite OTC Treatments for Rosacea

Every year, there seems to be a new over the counter (OTC) treatment for rosacea, and it claims to be the best. But could there really be that many “best” products out there? Here at Epiphany Therapeutics, we’ve given this a lot of thought. We want to clear up exactly what rosacea is, who gets it, and what OTC treatments for rosacea actually work. 

Millions of people in the United States have rosacea, and many of them don’t even know it. Rosacea happens to be a difficult condition to understand. 

With symptoms overlapping with so many other conditions, it’s common for people to live in discomfort for decades before identifying the problem. While searching for underlying contributors to your rosacea, Epiphany Therapeutic Body Cream offers a natural way to treat the irritation, inflammation, discomfort, and redness caused by rosacea.

People who suffer from rosacea do not have to rely on prescription medication and creams to find relief. In fact, there are plenty of over the counter treatments for rosacea that rival prescription options. Read on to learn more about the nature of rosacea and how you can treat symptoms without a prescription.

What is Rosacea? 

Rosacea is the most common and commonly misunderstood skin condition out there. According to the National Rosacea Society, rosacea is: “a common but poorly understood disorder of the facial skin that is estimated to affect well over 16 million Americans and as many as 415 million worldwide — and most of them don’t know it.” 

People can develop rosacea at any time during their lives, though the reason is not completely clear. 

With so many people affected by rosacea, you would think we would have a defined cause by now. But rosacea is complex, affecting people with various ages, ethnic backgrounds, and additional health conditions.  

Since rosacea shares many symptoms with other common skin conditions like eczema, allergic reactions, rashes, and sensitive skin, it’s easy to mistreat rosacea or even go years without a diagnosis. 

But that doesn’t change the physical and emotional discomfort sufferers experience. Rosacea is, afterall, a chronic skin condition that generally causes redness on the nose, mouth, cheeks and forehead. 

This redness is called a flare-up. Rosacea flare-ups can be embarrassing, with some people staying inside, avoiding other people or connecting with others until the flare-up passes. When a skin condition dominates your life like rosacea can, there’s no treatment you won’t try.

Types and Symptoms of Rosacea  

As we have mentioned before, rosacea is a complex skin condition. In fact, dermatologists have identified four general subtypes of rosacea, but the most commonly known type of rosacea expresses symptoms of redness, flushing, irritation, inflammation and visible blood vessels on the face. 

People with rosacea can have mild to severe symptoms, and the stage and severity of a person’s rosacea will dictate the proper treatment plan for that person. For this reason, it is helpful for people to consult a dermatologist to determine which subtype of rosacea they have. Knowing the different types of rosacea can help you identify what’s going on with your skin and how to treat it. 

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, or the most commonly known type or rosacea, includes symptoms of redness, flushing, and visible blood vessels. It’s incredibly easy for people to walk around without realizing they have this type of rosacea since it overlaps with many other skin conditions. 
  • Ocular Rosacea is symptoms of redness, itching, and burning of the eyes. Again, the cause of ocular rosacea is unclear, but the symptoms are evident and uncomfortable. Occasionally ocular rosacea can result in bloodshot, watery, and irritated eyes. Since the skin around the eyes is thin, people with ocular rosacea require a gentle over the counter (OTC) treatment for rosacea that won’t harm the eyes.
  • Acne Rosacea, also known as papulopustular rosacea, causes acne-like bumps and pustules on the skin along with redness and irritation. It’s common for people to confuse acne rosacea with regular acne, and then treat the breakouts with harsh acne medication. If you’re unsure whether your breakouts may be acne rosacea, it’s best to see a dermatologist to form a proper diagnosis.
  • Phymatous Rosacea causes the skin to thicken and leaves a bump texture to the facial area. This type of rosacea is more common on and around the nose, but skin may also thicken around the chin, cheeks, forehead and even the ears.

Like eczema and psoriasis, rosacea is one of a few skin conditions that do not have a cure, though the symptoms can be treated. To prevent mild to moderate rosacea from becoming severe, it is helpful to know what triggers symptoms. 

Who Gets Rosacea, and What Triggers It? 

While the ultimate causes of rosacea are still unknown, we do have plenty of insights on the common triggers of rosacea. People who suffer from rosacea also have common characteristics, which can help your investigation. 

If you have rosacea or you’re concerned you may develop rosacea, look out for the following triggers and factors that may contribute to rosacea: 

  • Fair-skinned people 
  • Acne-prone skin 
  • Scandinavian or Celtic ancestry
  • Between the ages of 30-50
  • Family history or rosacea 
  • Exposure to cold or harsh weather 
  • Drinking alcohol

As it turns out, women are also more likely than men to develop mild rosacea. However, women and men are equally as likely to develop severe rosacea. Additionally, the above factors are not hard and fast rules for who gets rosacea and who doesn’t. There have been many cases of children and people of all ethnic backgrounds developing rosacea. 

Though there is a genetic component that impacts who will get rosacea and dictates how severe it may become, there are also some outside factors that can exacerbate rosacea symptoms and either causes a flare-up or worsen an existing one.  Most sufferers (81%) report that sun exposure can trigger symptoms or worsen a flare-up. 

This is the most common trigger followed by stress, hot weather, wind exposure, and exercise. Other triggers include, humidity, cold weather, skin products, hot baths, and the consumption of alcohol, spicy foods, and heated beverages. 

Triggers are often unique to each individual, so it is essential that those with rosacea try to identify specific contributors to their flare-ups and avoid them. This step is crucial in managing the condition.

Source: Rosacea: Diagnosis and treatment. American Family Physician (2015).

The Best OTC Treatments for Rosacea and Skin Care Products to Treat Rosacea

Because the root cause of rosacea is still unknown, people use a variety of treatments to relieve symptoms. This is both good news and bad news. It’s exciting to know there are plenty of forms of relief out there, but where do you start? 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of products claiming to be the best OTC treatment for rosacea. That’s where we would like to help. 

First of all, you don’t have to take drugs to find relief from rosacea. Some of the most common OTC drugs for rosacea, like Aspirin, come with their own share of side effects, so it’s only natural that many people are looking for drug-free alternatives. 

Natural or drug-free OTC treatments for rosacea come in many forms:

  • Over-the-counter face cream 
  • Natural face wash 
  • over-the-counter moisturizer 

These products typically contain ingredients like witch hazel, aloe vera, sulfur, and essential micronutrients. All of these ingredients has been shown to calm inflammation, reduce redness and soothe irritated skin. 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the benefits of treating symptoms of rosacea can alleviate discomfort, prevent symptoms from worsening, and improve your self-confidence and quality of life. 

Most individuals with rosacea (approximately 82%) are untreated. However, treatment can make a tremendous difference for sufferers in terms of improved social and professional lives. Effective treatment can alleviate the physical symptoms and allay the concerns about appearance that many individuals with rosacea harbor. 

The primary goals of all rosacea treatments is to reduce redness, inflammation, skin irritation, bumps, and weak blood vessels. There are a number of ingredients that can accomplish this, but it may take some experimentation to find the ingredients that work best for your skin. 

While OTC treatments are less severe than lasers and light treatments or drugs, they are an everyday essential for those with rosacea. Here are 6 the best OTC treatments and protective products for rosacea.

Sunscreen

Because rosacea is a skin barrier condition, the skin can benefit greatly from extra sun protection. Sunscreen helps to prevent rosacea from becoming more inflamed. Be sure to select a sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15 for optimal protection. Physical sunscreens (like zinc oxide or titanium oxide) are typically better for people with rosacea than chemical sunscreens.

  • Helps protect the skin barrier from sun damage
  • Lightly moisturizes
  • Prevents continued inflammation from rosacea

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46

For individuals with rosacea, effective sunscreen is an essential tool for avoiding flare-ups. This sunscreen combines effective protection with other ingredients often used to treat rosacea, such as niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E.

  • Fragrance-free, paraben-free, oil-free, sensitivity-free, and noncomedogenic.
  • Shields skin from UVA and UVB rays.
  • Sodium hyaluronate moisturizes skin while lactic acid cleans pores and reduces shine.

Colorescience All Calm Clinical Redness Corrector SPF 50

As a skin product, this one functions as several in one – a primer, a color corrector, and a sunscreen. It provides instant and long-term relief from rosacea symptoms by addressing inflammation and bacterial-induced redness and uses minerals to deliver sun protection.

  • Contains Vital ET formula to soothe redness and reduce inflammation. It also calms the skin prior to and after sun exposure. 
  • Addresses bacterial-induced redness that can be related to acne.
  • Is a chemical-free sunscreen that uses minerals to provide broad spectrum UVA/UBV protection.

Eksem Moisturizing Body Cream

Eksem Moisturizing Body Cream is a topical treatment for rosacea, sensitive skin and generally red, irritated and flaky skin. The light cream is formulated with essential micronutrients that help to hydrate the skin and reduce inflammation, bumps and even acne associated with rosacea. Eksem cream is steroid-free, petrolatum free, and paraben-free. Eksem is also appropriate for people with eczema.

  •       Relieves discomfort from rosacea symptoms
  •       Soothes and protect the skin barrier
  •       Reduces redness and inflammation
  •       Helps with acne and bumps associated with rosacea

Azelaic Acid 

Azelaic Acid is a naturally-occurring acid derived from grains like rye, barley, and wheat. With its natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, it can be helpful with reducing symptoms of rosacea. Azelaic Acid can be purchased in either foam or gel form and is used to treat redness, bumps, and inflammation. 

  • Naturally antimicrobial 
  • Naturally anti-inflammatory 
  • Soothers symptoms of redness and inflammation 

Prosacea

Prosacea by Alvamco.com is a homeopathic topical gel that aims to treat the symptoms of rosacea and dry, bumpy, red or irritated skin. While Prosacea is considered “medicated”, the active ingredient (Sulphur – 1 X) is homeopathic, and therefore not considered a drug.  Prosacea is available at Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy.

  •       Homeopathic remedy for rosacea
  •       Soothes redness and irritation associated with rosacea
  •       Helps with acne and bumps associated with rosacea

Epiphany Therapeutic Body Cream

Epiphany Therapeutics Body Cream is a light, non-greasy lotion that helps to soothe dry, itchy and irritated skin. Packed with essential micronutrients, the formula helps to reduce inflammation, bumps, and redness, and nourish the skin without leaving any residue behind. Epiphany cream is steroid-free, petrolatum free, and paraben-free. Epiphany Therapeutic Body Cream is also suitable for people with psoriasis.

  • Relieves rosacea symptoms
  • Reduces skin irritation
  • Safe for ocular rosacea
  • Moisturizes and nourishes the skin

Jan Marini Rosalieve

Designed specifically for rosacea-prone skin, this formula is antioxidant-rich with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera to protect skin from environmental triggers that can irritate sensitive skin. It also contains soothing shea butter to nourish and calm skin and azelaic acid that can combat blemish-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation.

  • Visibly alleviates redness and reduces the appearance of facial flushing.
  • Features an anti-redness peptide and multiple antioxidants.
  • Powerful, reparative extracts shield skin from environmental triggers.

Is Clinical Pro-Heal Advance Plus

This serum includes many antioxidants with time-released vitamin C and other botanicals that effectively treat rosacea, acne, contact dermatitis, and insect bites. It is ideal for sensitive or compromised skin.

  • Olive leaf extract work with the ascorbic acid in vitamin C to provide protection and promote healthy skin.
  • Zinc sulfate works to reduce inflammation.
  • Vitamins E and A condition skin and neutralize free radicals.

Dermatologica Calm Water Gel

This soothing gel face cream contains apple and cactus pear extracts and aloe vera to soothe sensitivity and retain moisture. As a daily moisturizer, it is lightweight. This gel is also free of fragrance and parabens, making it ideal for hypersensitive skin. 

  • Dual hyaluronic acid technology works on different skin surface layers to increase and retain moisture.
  • Soothes sensitive skin with water-binding properties.
  • Maintains a healthy moisture balance to soothe skin.

SkinMedica Redness Relief CalmPlex

Designed as a formula to promote healing for certain skin conditions, this formula targets underlying causes of inflammation, such as environmental factors and weak blood vessel walls. The niacinamide works to enhance the skin’s ability to recover from damage.

  • Bioactive ingredients designed to target underlying causes of inflammation.
  • Jojoba oil delivers a soothing, lightweight hydration.
  • Strengthens skin’s ability to recover from damage.

Rosacea LTD

Rosacea LTD is composed of two compressed disks of salts and sulphur, which are known natural or homeopathic remedies for rosacea.  Sliding the disks on wet skin helps to relieve symptoms of rosacea like redness and irritation.

  •       Helps soothe redness and irritation
  •       Homeopathic ingredients
  •       Safe for ocular rosacea

Hypoallergenic, Natural Face Wash

Face washes tend to contain a lot of unnecessary chemicals that can trigger rosacea flare-ups. When choosing a natural face wash for rosacea, look for cleansers meant for hypersensitive skin, Like Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser. The general rule of thumb is to stick to cleansers with as few ingredients as possible. You don’t want to strip your skin barrier, just gently cleanse it without causing too much irritation. 

Moisturizers for Rosacea 

The best over the counter moisturizers for rosacea contain Vitamin B3, or Niacinamide. This ingredient is known to reduce redness and calm inflammation. 

Additionally, some progressive research is looking to the gut-skin connection to determine the cause of rosacea. In this case, it may be helpful to try a moisturizer that contains probiotics. Probiotics are known to improve gut health by promoting good gut bacteria.  Like the gut, the skin is also covered in little microbes. Promoting good skin health starts with a probiotic-rich moisturizer. 

Whichever moisturizer you choose, make sure it is non-comedogenic (meaning it doesn’t clog pores), fragrance free and hypoallergenic. 

Redness Repair Somaluxe

This natural cream by Lady Soma contains active ingredients like witch hazel, rosehip oil, aloe vera, and oats. Many of these ingredients are known for their skin healing properties. However, if you have sensitive skin, oats can be irritating, so make sure your skin barrier can handle ingredients like this. The product also contains hyaluronic acid and peptides to help with the moisture and protection of the skin barrier.

  • Soothes skin that is prone to redness
  • Relieves irritation and discomfort
  • Contains peptides and hyaluronic acid

Precautions With OTC treatments for rosacea

We just covered a lot of amazing products that can help reduce rosacea symptoms. SO here is a word of caution as your begin experimenting: try one new product at a time. 

It is difficult to determine which products are working and which may be making symptoms worse if you’re using 3 or 4 new products at a time. Pace yourself, take your time, and keep track of changes as you go. 

You may find it helpful to write down your observations in a notebook. This way, you can determine what works, how long a product takes to work, and which ingredients to avoid. 

It is important to remember that not all products are safe or effective for every type of rosacea. For example, some treatments for acne rosacea will be too strong for ocular rosacea. While there are some all-around effective treatments, like our Epiphany and Eksem creams, you should act with caution before using new treatments around your eyes. 

Using OTC remedies for rosacea is not the solution for everyone. For example, if you have certain allergies to plant-based ingredients, experimenting on your own may not be a smart idea. It’s tempting to fill your cart with the latest rosacea treatment products and be on your way. But do your research before trying any new products. 

Since there are several different types of rosacea, it is best to talk to your dermatologist about treatment for rosacea. A quick conversation with your dermatologist can ensure you choose the best treatment for your needs. Your dermatologist will create a treatment plan that addresses the specific symptoms you are experiencing, based on the severity of your rosacea.


About the Authors

Bill Goolsbee

William Goolsbee has spent his career in Life Sciences including leading roles in drug development in immunology and genetic medicine. Recent senior positions include Chairman of the Board at Sarepta Therapeutics and Founder and CEO at Metrodora Therapeutics.

Dr. Gil Price

Gil Price M.D. is the Chief Medical Officer at the Propharma Group, where he provides medical supervision for all clinical trials. He previously served as the Chief Executive Officer of Drug Safety Solutions, where he oversaw safety monitoring for drugs in clinical development. Dr. Price also served as the Director of Clinical Development at Medimmune Oncology and Director of Medical Affairs at Glaxo.

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