Herbal Treatment for Acne Rosacea
The bumps, dilated veins and redness associated with acne rosacea typically occur in adulthood and can bring back all the angst associated with the pimples of adolescence. Advertisers frequently promise healing with herbs, and natural practitioners continue to offer remedies based on years of tradition. Most dermatologists, however, await clear scientific proof regarding the efficacy of herbal treatment for rosacea before giving their full blessing to these natural remedies.
Always check with your physician or dermatologist before using an herbal remedy for your rosacea or any other condition, because these "natural" products may cause side effects or interact negatively with other drugs or supplements.
Features and Causes
Most frequently appearing in adulthood and occurring on the face, acne rosacea more commonly affects women. Interestingly, however, men typically have more severe cases. It usually comes and goes. Many patients learn to identify triggers for bouts of rosacea, such as sun exposure, excessive sweating or stress, according to the National Institutes of Health. It can present as a blush of red across the cheeks or may cause small pimple-like bumps and an increased number of spider veins. Other symptoms of rosacea include thickening of the skin across the cheeks and forehead and a bulbous nose.
Theories regarding causes include heredity, swelling of blood vessels in the face, reaction to mites that live in hair follicles or a bacterium associated with stomach infections, Helicobacter pylori. Despite the pimple-like bumps that resemble acne, rosacea is not acne and typically worsens with treatments designed for acne. There is no known cure, but doctors do not classify rosacea as a medically dangerous condition, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Traditionally Approved Herbal Treatments
Topical herbal treatments frequently suggested for rosacea include licorice, green tea, lavender and chamomile, mostly based upon their anti-inflammatory characteristics. Some individuals report benefits with use of these herbal extracts. Others deny any effect; some actually report worsening of their rosacea, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Many over-the-counter (OTC) products contain herbal ingredients advertised to help with rosacea, and directions for use vary according to the manufacturer.
Available in OTC skin moisturizers, licorice root reportedly reduces the redness and soothes the dryness associated with rosacea, according to a 2006 edition of the "Journal of Drugs in Dermatology." Green tea extract, used for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, is a popular component of skin care and anti-aging regimens. It may also decrease the skin's reaction to sunlight; rosacea often flares-up with sun exposure. Some users also report improvement in the appearance of the spider veins commonly associated with rosacea. Popular for centuries in treating fungal and bacterial infections, lavender also reportedly has topical sedative properties that soothe rosacea discomfort.
FDA-Approved Herbal Treatments
In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the powder from ground oatmeal, colloidal oatmeal, for relief of itching from exposure to poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac and insect bites. Rosacea causes itching as well and often results in dry, irritated skin. Thus, the anti-itch properties of oatmeal seem to make it an effective treatment for some rosacea symptoms. Oatmeal also cleanses gently by absorbing dirt and oil and acts as a moisturizer that can soothe irritated skin. Manufactures offer many OTC products containing oatmeal and directions for use vary by product.
As of 2010, with the exception of oatmeal powder, few comprehensive studies exist to reinforce the claims of topical herbal treatments for rosacea. While this does not mean the claims are false, scientific research to date has simply been too limited or not valid when it comes to most herbal treatments for rosacea, including licorice, green tea, and lavender.
The AAD notes that a few dermatologists report improved results in some rosacea patients if they add a herb to their prescription medication. However, the AAD also cautions that some patients have their conditions worsen when they add herbal treatment to their regimen. Other concerns voiced by the AAD include questions about proper dosing levels and the long-term effects of herbal remedies.
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