Don't Hide, Rid the Red from Your Face

Redness from rosacea may be reduced with topical gel

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Even though rosacea is a harmless skin condition, it can still make you feel self-conscious. Now it seems a new gel may be able to prevent you from getting that embarrassing red face.

A gel consisting of a widely used glaucoma drug may reduce erythema, or redness of the skin caused by rosacea.

"Talk to your doctor about the future of rosacea treatments."

There is no way to totally eliminate rosacea. However, there are treatments to relieve symptoms, including drugs that you apply to your skin and oral antibiotics. In a recent study, Joseph Fowler, M.D., of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, and colleagues tested a gel that could become a new treatment option for people suffering from rosacea.

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that affects adults. People with rosacea commonly suffer from red areas on the face and skin sores that look like acne.

For their research, Dr. Fowler and colleagues wanted to see if a common glaucoma drug called brimonidine tartrate (BT) could be used in a gel to treat the redness of rosacea.

They found that a single application of BT gel reduced redness of the face within 12 hours.

The gel not only works, but also appears to be safe. After using the gel, patients did not experience a rebound of redness or a worsening of other signs of the disease such as the swelling of blood vessels. Even larger doses of the BT gel were safe.

To come to these findings, the researchers conducted two studies. In the first study, 122 rosacea patients were assigned to get a single application of the gel with a BT concentration of either 0.07 percent, 0.18 percent, 0.5 percent, or vehicle (the gel without BT).

Between 30 minutes and 12 hours after applying the gel, patients showed improvement. As the dosage of BT increased, the gel became more and more effective in reducing redness.

In the second study, 269 people were assigned to receive 0.5 percent BT gel once-a-day, 0.18 percent BT gel once-a-day, vehicle once-a-day, 0.18 percent BT gel twice-a-day, or vehicle twice-a-day.

Those who used the 0.5 percent BT gel once-a-day had much better improvement in redness compared to those who took the vehicle.

These findings suggest that 0.5 percent once-daily BT gel is safe and effective for treatment the redness of rosacea. Be that as it may, the gel is still in its early stages of testing. More research needs to be done before it can become available to patients. Cost information is not available at this time.

The full results of this study are published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 5, 2012
Last Updated:
August 12, 2013