Top 5 Best Acne Face Washes In 2020

They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that’s especially true when washing your face. If you maintain a daily face washing routine, you’re much less likely to experience sudden breakouts.

Of course, not all acne face wash products are equal. The types of ingredients and products you choose depends on your individual skin type and acne situation.

Let’s take a look at the finer details of what causes acne, and how to choose the perfect acne face wash.

What is acne?

Most of us recognize acne as pesky raised bumps and red spots that appear on our skin. (Bonus points if they show up at the most inconvenient possible time – pimples have a knack for that.)

In scientific terms, acne has a more complex definition. Experts describe acne as a chronic inflammatory skin issue that causes pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, cysts, and other blemishes. Many acne sufferers experience blemishes on their face, but acne also strikes on the back, shoulders, neck, and arms.

What causes acne?

The exact cause of your breakout will vary based on age, skin type, and other factors. That said, in general, most acne is caused by oil and bacteria in the skin.

When your skin releases too much oil, acne forms thanks to dead skin cells and bacteria caught in your pores. Luckily, acne face wash is our first line of defense against that process.

How acne face wash works

When you use an acne face wash, your face will look clean and your skin will feel tingly fresh. Below the surface, however, much more powerful things are happening. For starters, that acne face wash is working in overdrive to remove bacteria from pores. It’s also removing dead skin cells and gently exfoliating so your skin is more receptive to any acne treatment products you apply after washing.

What makes acne face wash different from other treatments?

While acne face wash helps treat and prevent acne, it also – of course – cleanses your face. Because of its dual purpose, acne face wash is best viewed as a complementary product to more direct acne treatments.

Spot treatments and acne exfoliators wouldn’t be nearly as powerful without a quality acne face wash to prep the skin before they’re applied.

Other acne products work better when paired with face wash

Below are a few popular types of acne treatments you might want to consider applying after using your acne face wash, so you can set the stage for maximum effectiveness.

  • Topical Spot Treatments

These creams are applied directly onto pimples. They’re usually intended to be applied only onto the blemish itself, not the rest of your face, and most of them work overnight.

Spot treatments are only used when you feel a pimple immediately coming on or when the pimple has already formed.

  • Scrubs And Exfoliators

Acne scrubs pack a one-two punch by applying powerful acne-crushing ingredients to your skin while exfoliating.

Exfoliation fights acne by sloughing off dead skin cells and paving the way for treatment products to seep in more effectively.

  • Oral Medications

Your doctor can prescribe pills that help your body fight off acne.

Popular Acne Face Wash Ingredients

There are several top ingredients that make an acne face wash effective. One thing most experts agree on is that when choosing a face wash, you should avoid harsh soaps that strip your skin of natural oils. Beyond that, there’s a wide variety of different face washes on the market that most dermatologists would approve of.

Below are a few ingredients you’ll want to keep in mind. You don’t need all of these ingredients in your face wash at once, but they’re worth being aware of.

  • Salicylic Acid

This acid cleanses deep within your pores to remove dead skin cells, dirt, and oil – all of which cause acne.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide

This ingredient is excellent for removing painful blemishes under the surface of your skin, as well as prominent pimples.

  • Tea Tree Oil

This natural ingredient reduces inflammation while banishing bacteria. As far as natural ingredients go, it’s a strong one, so it should be used sparingly at first.

The Top 5 Best Acne Face Wash Products

Best Overall Acne Face Wash: Exposed Skincare Facial Cleanser

This face wash is everything you need in one bottle. It has the double impact of zapping existing pimples while simultaneously preventing future ones. Exposed Skincare’s science-backed, all natural formula is the driving force behind their signature face wash.

Why we like it:

  • Effective enough to get the job done well, but gentle enough for sensitive skin.
  • Uses salicylic acid, an unstoppable acne-fighting ingredient.
  • Incorporates sage extract and vitamin B5 for maximum natural soothing.
  • Formula uses ethically sourced ingredients.

You might want to choose Exposed Skincare Facial Cleanser if:

You want a one-stop shop that ranks as the best.

Exposed Skincare Facial Cleanser combines top-notch acne-fighting and soothing ingredients. The cleanser implements the power of salicylic acid, one of the top dermatologist-recommended acne treatment ingredients, to deeply cleanse pores and banish acne-causing bacteria. Then, it replenishes your skin with gentle ingredients like vitamin B5 and sage extract. It’s free of harsh soap, so your skin is able to maintain its natural moisture. With regular use of this dynamite cleanser, your skin will radically transform. You’ll see smaller and clearer pores, less oily skin, and less dryness.

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Best Acne Face Wash For Oily Skin: Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

This iconic face wash has been around for decades, and it’s still as effective as ever.

Why we like it:

  • It has a lengthy track record of success.
  • Uses salicylic acid, a powerful acne-fighting ingredient.

You might want to choose Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash if:

You have an oily skin type and are looking for a powerful and affordable option.

This famous cleanser is beloved by teens and adults alike. The face wash is strong enough to pack a powerful punch, but gentle enough to stave off irritation. It combines salicylic acid, a coveted acne-fighting ingredient, with moisturizers that keep your skin from drying out. It’s a classic, and for good reason. It’s one of the most frequently recommended face washes by dermatologists.

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Best Acne Face Wash For Dry Skin: Era Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser

This gentle cleanser uses a series of natural ingredients to soothe dry skin while it treats acne.

Why we like it:

  • Uses organic ingredients.
  • Uses tea tree oil, a popular natural ingredient for fighting acne.
  • Great for sensitive skin.

You might want to choose Era Organics Tea Tree Oil Face Cleanser if:

You want to soothe your chronic dry skin or rosacea (a condition that causes redness on the face) while also treating acne.

This cleanser uses ingredients like tea tree oil, aloe vera, burdock root, and dandelion root to heal your acne with the help of mother nature. The cleanser also aids in reducing redness and reducing buildup of dead skin cells. It works on both the face and body.

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Best Acne Face Wash For Fans Of Korean Beauty: Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam EX

As many skincare addicts know, the South Korean beauty scene is a top producer of face washes and acne products. This face wash was formulated in South Korea and works wonders on gentle skin.

Why we like it:

  • Gentle and hydrating for all skin types.
  • Uses natural ingredients.

You might want to choose Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam EX if:

You’re looking for a unique product that feels luxurious without breaking the bank.

This cleansing foam removes dead skin cells while moisturizing. After using the product, you’ll be left with soft and hydrated skin. The product is formulated with natural ingredients like inner chestnut shells and duckweed. It’s certainly effective, but what makes the product extra fun is the satisfying fresh-faced feeling you’ll get after using it.

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Best Acne Face Wash For Sensitive Skin: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

This cleanser packs tough acne-fighting ingredients into a gentle product.

Why we like it:

  • Contains benzoyl peroxide, a powerful acne-fighting ingredient.
  • Uses smaller, gentle doses of harsh ingredients.

You might want to choose Differin Daily Deep Cleanser if:

You have sensitive skin but still want to use the most powerful acne-fighting ingredients you can find.

While most acne face wash products that use Benzoyl Peroxide use a 10% concentration of the product, this Differin cleanser only uses 5%. That means less irritation and dryness while still serving a powerful dosage. The face wash is infused with moisturizer, so it’s a good option for sensitive skin.

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Face wash is your secret weapon in the fight against acne.

At first, acne face wash seems like an afterthought compared to powerful spot treatment. However, at the end of the day, face wash is one of the most important tools in your arsenal.

Acne face wash does the daily heavy lifting of keeping your skin acne-free and primed for treatment. Washing your face is one of the first things you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night, so why not take it more seriously?

You have nothing to lose by pumping up your routine with the most effective acne face washes on the market.

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The Best Acne Treatment For 2020

There’s something universally cringe-inducing about noticing a pimple on the way to a job interview or a first date. If only there were a special word in the dictionary for that miserable moment!

Things get even worse when you try to cover up the pimple and end up adding to the redness instead.

What is it about one little blemish that can make years of self-confidence vanish in an instant?

Don’t despair: no matter your skin type, there’s a cure for the pimples that ail you. Here’s a low-down on how to find the best acne treatment for your skin, and a little 101 on how acne works.

What causes acne?

Before we dig into the best acne treatments, let’s start with a refresher course on what causes acne in the first place. Below are a few reasons those pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads keep popping up.

Excess Oil In Skin

Generally, oil in your skin (also known as sebum) is a good thing, because it keeps your skin healthy and safe from pollutants. When your skin produces oil in excess, however, it can lead to acne.

Dermatologists categorize each person’s skin as a “dry,” “oily,” or “combination” type. While having an oily skin type doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have tons of acne, you might be more prone to it than your peers.

Pore Clogging

If your skin suddenly starts to produce more oil than before, it can change the process of your skin cells’ maturation cycle. This makes your pores more likely to be clogged with dead skin cells or oil, and that clogging can start the process of a blemish forming. As the clogged pore gets bigger, it can take on that pimple-like appearance we’ve all come to dread.

Bacteria In The Skin

If you’ve got an inflamed pore or a pore that’s growing in size, the pore wall becomes weaker and prone to irritation. When this happens, bacteria can make its way deeper into the skin at the pimple point. That equates to redness and irritation.

Hormonal Changes

Hormones are a major culprit when it comes to acne. During puberty, hormones like androgens increase in your system, which can cause your skin to produce more oil.

You can also experience hormonal changes (and in turn, a change in your skin’s oil production) during pregnancy or other life phases that cause hormonal shifts. (You might find that acne caused by hormonal changes is especially common around your chin or jaw.)

What types of acne treatment are out there?

If overflowing drugstore aisles are any indication, there are more acne treatments on the market than you can count.

Fortunately, most treatments come down to a few core methods, which makes it easier to narrow down your options.

Topical Creams

Topical creams are usually applied as spot treatment when individual pimples appear. If you’ve ever noticed a blemish and applied product directly to the pimple overnight, you’ve used a topical cream.

Topical Face Washes, Scrubs, And Exfoliators

These treatments usually involve daily use, even when you’re not breaking out, and are part of your regular skincare routine. They often have more of a focus on prevention. Acne scrubs, acne-focused face washes, and even Clarisonic exfoliators fit into this category.


If you’ve tried over-the-counter acne options and aren’t seeing the results you want, doctors will sometimes prescribe medications to help prevent your acne. These are usually pills you’ll take every day.

Lifestyle Changes

Some people can reduce acne by making changes to their lifestyle, like managing their diet and stress levels. (Research points to the fact that stress and foods like chocolate might contribute to acne.)

Obviously, these types of lifestyle treatments are more about trial and error, and they can take patience.

Dermatology Treatments

Your dermatologist might help manage your acne with laser treatments or other procedures that can be done in their office.

Best Acne Treatment Ingredients

The most important thing when choosing an acne treatment is knowing which ingredients you’re looking for. A leading best acne treatment will usually incorporate at least one of the effective ingredients below.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most popular ingredients out there, and for good reason. It can be very effective in removing extra oil and eliminating bacteria.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Also known as AHAs (and adored by many skincare addicts), alpha hydroxy acids help remove dead skin cells that clog your pores. Many people who use AHAs find themselves with softer skin on top of seeing an acne reduction.


Clay can help slow your skin’s oil production temporarily. It can also be a soothing contrast to some of the more acidic ingredients in other acne treatments.

Salicylic Acid

This popular ingredient can exfoliate within your pores, which can help keep them free of acne-causing clogs. It can also have an anti-inflammatory effect, which can ease redness.

Tea Tree Oil

This is a great natural ingredient option, as it combines antibacterial capabilities and anti-inflammation properties. Natural ingredients can have a reputation for being gentle, so be aware that tea tree oil is actually a bit harsh for people with sensitive skin. Start with small quantities and be sure to moisturize while using it.


Retinol is usually recognized for its anti-aging power, but it can also be used to treat acne. This powerful vitamin A ingredient can increase the speed at which your skin cells turn over and reduce inflammation. Retinol can also aid in exfoliation and help reduce your skin’s oil production.


Sulfur is a great option for removing oil from your pimples and drying them out. (That said, be aware that sulfur may also dry out the skin surrounding the pimple.)

The Top 5 Best Acne Treatments

Best Overall Acne Treatment: Exposed Skincare Ultimate Kit

This kit covers all the bases to clear your skin in 30 days with the combined power of science and natural ingredients.

Why we like it:

  • 9 Pieces In One
  • Uses Natural Extracts
  • Targets All Acne Causes At Once
  • Responsibly Sourced Ingredients

You might want to choose this one if:

You want something comprehensive, and are looking for the best of the best.

The Exposed Skincare Ultimate Kit provides all the products and skincare steps you need to effectively treat your acne, so you don’t have to worry about anything except applying each step as instructed. This kit combines natural extracts fueled by the power of advanced science, so you’re getting the best of both the natural and medicinal skincare worlds.

After 30 days of use, you’ll see unclogged pores, less oil production, and soothed redness. In addition to a decrease in acne, you’ll also experience an overall improvement in other aspects of your skin, like smoothness. Another fantastic perk of the kit is that Exposed never tests on animals and ethically sources their ingredients.

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Best Natural Acne Treatment: Keeva’s Original Tea Tree Oil Acne Treatment Cream

Keeva’s cream keeps things all-natural, with tea tree oil as the central ingredient.

Why we like it:

  • Lightweight
  • All-Natural
  • Extremely Powerful

You might want to choose this one if:

You like to keep your skincare all-natural without sacrificing effectiveness.

This cream utilizes tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties to zap acne. You’ll feel a tingly sensation when using it, so you’ll know right away that you’re getting results. The cream helps smooth out excess oil production while also moisturizing, which is a key step when using drying ingredients like tea tree oil.

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Best Acne Treatment for Individual Pimples: Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

This spot treatment packs a powerful punch on individual pimples while you sleep.

Why we like it:

  • Treats Pimples Overnight
  • Soothes And Cools While Treating

You might want to choose this one if:

You get a few isolated stubborn pimples at a time.

This popular treatment works by drying out pimples and blemishes while you sleep. You can simply dab it on the pimple, head to bed, and wake up to find that it’s vanished. The product uses salicylic acid, sulfur, zinc oxide, and calamine lotion for a one-two punch effect of acne treatment and skin soothing.

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Best Acne Treatment For Dry Skin: Paula’s Choice CLEAR Acne Treatment

CLEAR uses the ever-effective benzoyl peroxide with a gentle formula to protect dry skin while using powerful acne-crushing ingredients.

Why we like it:

  • Treats Acne While Keeping Skin Hydrated
  • Uses Benzoyl Peroxide, A Top Acne Fighting Ingredient

You might want to choose this one if:

You have dry, sensitive skin in addition to acne.

CLEAR can be used daily (even under makeup or other grooming products) and helps soothe redness while reducing oil production. It stands out for its ability to keep skin hydrated and minimize any flaking with gentle ingredients.

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Best Acne Treatment For Oily Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare One Step Acne Eliminating Pads

These easy-to-use pads treat acne at all stages, and are great for soothing oily skin.

Why we like it:

  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Uses Salicylic Acid, A Powerful Acne Fighting Ingredient

You might want to choose this one if:

You have oily skin and stubborn, deep-rooted acne that won’t budge.

This treatment combats excess oil and uses two leading ingredients: salicylic acid and L-carnitine. It helps prevent pore blockage, clear any clogging that already exists, and soothe the skin after treatment. It’s also known to reduce redness.

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An acne-free future is closer than you think

Acne can be emotionally debilitating, but it is not a life sentence. As powerless as acne can feel, one of the most important factors in treating it is not giving up.

It can take time to find the treatment plan that does the trick for you. Stick with it and keep your eyes on the prize. Before you know it, the word “zit” won’t even be a blip on your radar anymore.

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Questions and Answers about Rosacea

This booklet contains general information about rosacea (ro-ZAY-she-ah). It defines rosacea and describes its symptoms, possible causes, and treatments. If you have further questions after reading this booklet, you may wish to discuss them with your doctor.

  • What Is Rosacea?
  • Who Gets Rosacea?
  • What Does Rosacea Look Like?
  • How Is the Eye Affected?
  • What Causes Rosacea?
  • Can Rosacea Be Cured?
  • What Research Is Being Conducted to Help People With Rosacea?
  • Where Can People Find More Information About Rosacea?

Information Box

Working With Your Doctor to Manage Rosacea

What Is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic (long-term) disease that affects the skin and sometimes the eyes. The disorder is characterized by redness, pimples, and, in advanced stages, thickened skin. Rosacea usually affects the face. Skin on other parts of the upper body is only rarely involved.

Who Gets Rosacea?

Approximately 14 million people in the United States have rosacea. It most often affects adults between the ages of 30 and 60. Rosacea is more common in women (particularly during menopause) than men. Although rosacea can develop in people of any skin color, it tends to occur most frequently and is most apparent in people with fair skin.

What Does Rosacea Look Like?

There are several symptoms and conditions associated with rosacea. These include frequent flushing, vascular rosacea, inflammatory rosacea, and several other conditions involving the skin, eyes, and nose.

Frequent flushing of the center of the face, which may include the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin, occurs in the earliest stage of rosacea. The flushing often is accompanied by a burning sensation, particularly when creams or cosmetics are applied to the face. Sometimes the face is swollen slightly.

A condition called vascular rosacea causes persistent flushing and redness. Blood vessels under the skin of the face may dilate (enlarge), showing through the skin as small red lines. This is called telangiectasia (tel-AN-je-ek-tay-ze-ah). The affected skin may be swollen slightly and feel warm.

A condition called inflammatory rosacea causes persistent redness and papules (pink bumps) and pustules (bumps containing pus) on the skin. Eye inflammation and sensitivity as well as telangiectasia also may occur.

In the most advanced stage of rosacea, the skin becomes a deep shade of red and inflammation of the eye is more apparent. Numerous telangiectases are often present, and nodules in the skin may become painful. A condition called rhinophyma also may develop in some men; it is rare in women. Rhinophyma is characterized by an enlarged, bulbous, and red nose resulting from enlargement of the sebaceous (oil-producing) glands beneath the surface of the skin on the nose. People who have rosacea also may develop a thickening of the skin on the forehead, chin, cheeks, or other areas.

How Is the Eye Affected?

In addition to skin problems, up to 50 percent of people who have rosacea have eye problems caused by the condition. Typical symptoms include redness, dryness, itching, burning, tearing, and the sensation of having sand in the eye. The eyelids may become inflamed and swollen. Some people say their eyes are sensitive to light and their vision is blurred or otherwise impaired.

What Causes Rosacea?

Doctors do not know the exact cause of rosacea but believe that some people may inherit a tendency to develop the disorder. People who blush frequently may be more likely to develop rosacea. Some researchers believe that rosacea is a disorder where blood vessels dilate too easily, resulting in flushing and redness.

Factors that cause rosacea to flare up in one person may have no effect on another person. Although the following factors have not been well-researched, some people claim that one or more of them have aggravated their rosacea: heat (including hot baths), strenuous exercise, sunlight, wind, very cold temperatures, hot or spicy foods and drinks, alcohol consumption, menopause, emotional stress, and long-term use of topical steroids on the face. Patients affected by pustules may assume they are caused by bacteria, but researchers have not established a link between rosacea and bacteria or other organisms on the skin, in the hair follicles, or elsewhere in the body.

Can Rosacea Be Cured?

Although there is no cure for rosacea, it can be treated and controlled. A dermatologist (a medical doctor who specializes in diseases of the skin) usually treats rosacea. The goals of treatment are to control the condition and improve the appearance of the patient’s skin. It may take several weeks or months of treatment before a person notices an improvement of the skin.

Some doctors will prescribe a topical antibiotic, such as metronidazole, which is applied directly to the affected skin. For people with more severe cases, doctors often prescribe an oral (taken by mouth) antibiotic. Tetracycline, minocycline, erythromycin, and doxycycline are the most common antibiotics used to treat rosacea. The papules and pustules symptomatic of rosacea may respond quickly to treatment, but the redness and flushing are less likely to improve.

ome people who have rosacea become depressed by the changes in the appearance of their skin. People who have rosacea may experience low self-esteem, feel embarrassed by their appearance, and claim their social and professional interactions with others are adversely affected. A doctor should be consulted if a person feels unusually sad or has other symptoms of depression, such as loss of appetite or trouble concentrating.

Doctors usually treat the eye problems of rosacea with oral antibiotics, particularly tetracycline or doxycycline. People who develop infections of the eyelids must practice frequent eyelid hygiene. The doctor may recommend scrubbing the eyelids gently with diluted baby shampoo or an over-the-counter eyelid cleaner and applying warm (but not hot) compresses several times a day. When eyes are severely affected, doctors may prescribe steroid eye drops.

Electrosurgery and laser surgery are treatment options if red lines caused by dilated blood vessels appear in the skin or if rhinophyma develops. For some patients, laser surgery may improve the skin’s appearance with little scarring or damage. For patients with rhinophyma, surgical removal of the excess tissue to reduce the size of the nose usually will improve the patient’s appearance.

Working With Your Doctor to Manage Rosacea

The role you play in managing your rosacea is important. You can take several steps to keep rosacea under control:

  • Keeping a written record of when flares occur may provide clues about what is irritating the skin.
  • Most people should use a sunscreen every day that protects against UVA and UVB rays (ultraviolet rays) and has a sun-protecting factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, but sunscreen is particularly important for people whose skin is irritated by exposure to the sun.
  • Using a mild lubricant may be helpful, but avoid applying any irritating products to the face. Some people find that a green-tinted makeup effectively conceals skin redness.
  • If your eyes are affected, faithfully follow your doctor’s treatment plan and clean your eyelids as instructed.

What Research Is Being Conducted to Help People With Rosacea?

Researchers are studying the eyes of people who have rosacea to find ways to prevent dry eyes and other eye problems related to rosacea. Scientists also are evaluating the most effective ways to use medications to treat rosacea and the best methods to minimize scarring of the sebaceous glands when removing excess nasal tissue in rhinophyma.

Additionally, researchers are looking at the immunological aspects of rosacea. In one study, researchers found that people with rosacea had high levels of cathelicidins, peptides with antimicrobial and proinflammatory properties that protect the skin against infection. (Cathelicidins are secreted in an inactive form and undergo a cleaving process to take on their active form.) Investigators also discovered that levels of stratum corneum tryptic enzyme or SCTE—the enzyme responsible for cleaving the inactive cathelicidins into their active form—were also elevated in people with rosacea.

Where Can People Find More Information About Rosacea?

  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
    Phone: 301-495-4484
    Toll free: 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267)
    TTY: 301–565–2966
    Fax: 301-718-6366
    Email: [email protected]
  • American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)
    Phone: 847-330-0230
    Toll free: 866-503-SKIN (7546)
  • National Rosacea Society
    Toll free: 888-NO-BLUSH (662-5874)

For additional contact information, visit the NIAMS Web site, or call the NIAMS Information Clearinghouse.


NIAMS gratefully acknowledges the assistance of Mark Dahl, M.D., Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ; Sam Huff, National Rosacea Society, Barrington, IL; Robert Katz, M.D., Rockville, MD; M. Carol McNeely, M.D., University Dermatology Associates, Washington, DC; Larry Miller, M.D., Chevy Chase, MD; Alan Moshell, M.D., NIAMS, NIH; and Gary Peck, M.D., Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC, in the review of this booklet.

The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health (NIH), is to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse is a public service sponsored by the NIAMS that provides health information and information sources. Additional information can be found on the NIAMS Web site at

For Your Information

This booklet contains information about medications used to treat the health condition discussed here. When this booklet was printed, we included the most up-to-date (accurate) information available. Occasionally, new information on medication is released.

Clinical Trials for Rosacea

1 Recruiting Atralin Gel for the Treatment of Rosacea

Condition: Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: vehicle gel;   Drug: Atralin gel
2 Not yet recruiting Open Label Pilot Study of Apremilast in Treatment of Rosacea

Conditions: Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea;   Papulopustular Rosacea
Intervention: Drug: Apremilast
3 Active, not recruiting Zinc Sulfate in the Treatment of Rosacea: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Condition: Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: zinc sulfate;   Drug: placebo
4 Not yet recruiting Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of Topical Minocycline FXFM244 in Rosacea Patients

Condition: Rosacea
Intervention: Drug: Topical Minocycline Foam FXFM244
5 Completed A Study to Determine the Safety and Efficacy of Atralin (Tretinoin 0.05%) Gel for the Treatment of Rosacea

Condition: Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: tretinoin gel 0.05%;   Drug: vehicle
6 Recruiting Combination Therapy for the Treatment of Rosacea

Condition: Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: calcium dobesilate;   Procedure: pulsed dye laser
7 Completed A Phase II, Randomized Study of ACZONE™ (Dapsone) Gel, 5% for Papulopustular Rosacea.

Condition: Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: Vehicle control, 2x/day;   Drug: ACZONE (dapsone) Gel, 5%, 2x/day;   Drug: ACZONE (dapsone) Gel, 5%, 1x/day;   Drug: MetroGel® (metronidazole gel), 1.0% 1x/day;   Drug: ACZONE (dapsone) Gel, 5%, 1x/day (AM) + MetroGel (metronidazole gel), 1.0%, 1x/day (PM)
8 Completed Effects of PRK 124 Lotion in Acne Rosacea

Condition: Acne Rosacea
Intervention: Other: PRK 124
9 Completed Determine the Effect of Administering Periostat(R) Twice Daily on Patients With Acne Rosacea

Condition: Acne Rosacea
Intervention: Drug: doxycycline hyclate 20 mg twice daily
10 Completed Exploratory Study of Azelaic Acid 15% Foam Compared to Vehicle in Patients With Papulopustular Rosacea

Condition: Papulopustular Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: Azelaic acid;   Drug: Vehicle
11 Recruiting Safety and Efficacy Study of Clindamycin Phosphate 1.2% and Tretinoin 0.025% Gel to Treat Rosacea

Condition: Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: Clindamycin Phosphate 1.2% And Tretinoin 0.025% Gel;   Drug: placebo
12 Completed Dose-Finding Study of CD07805/47 Topical Gel in Subjects With Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea

Condition: Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea
Intervention: Drug: CD07805/47
13 Active, not recruiting Efficacy of Topical Azelaic Acid 15% Gel Plus Anti-inflammatory Dose Doxycycline or Metronidazole Gel 1% Plus Anti-inflammatory Dose Doxycycline in Moderate Papulopustular Rosacea

Condition: Papulopustular Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: azelaic acid gel plus 40 mg doxycycline;   Drug: metronidazole plus doxycycline
14 Completed Isotretinoin in Papular-Pustular Rosacea

Condition: Papular-pustular Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: isotretinoin;   Drug: placebo
15 Completed Systemic Bioavailability Study Of Col-118 Administered Topically as a 0.18 % Facial Gel And Brimonidine Ophthalmic Solution 0.2%

Condition: Erythematous Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: 0.18% COL-118 facial gel (1.8 mg brimonidine);   Drug: 0.2% brimonidine ophthalmic solution (0.1 mg brimonidine tartrate/drop)
16 Recruiting Efficacy of Topical Cyclosporin for Ocular Rosacea

Condition: Rosacea
Intervention: Drug: Cyclosporin 0.05% Ophthalmic Solution
17 Completed Safety and Efficacy Study to Compare Two Rosacea Treatment Regimens

Condition: Rosacea
Intervention: Drug: doxycycline
18 Completed Laser-Mediated Photodynamic Therapy of Acne Vulgaris and Rosacea

Condition: Acne Vulgaris and Rosacea
Interventions: Device: Long-pulsed dye laser (Candela) and PDT (methylaminolevulinate);   Device: Long-pulsed dye laser;   Device: Long-pulsed dye laser assisted fotodynamic therapy (methylaminolevulinate)
19 Not yet recruiting A Study of DER 45-EV Gel to Treat Rosacea

Condition: Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: DER 45 EV;   Drug: Vehicle
20 Active, not recruiting Safety and Efficacy of Azelaic Acid Foam 15% in Papulopustular Rosacea

Condition: Papulopustular Rosacea
Interventions: Drug: Azelaic acid foam 15%;   Drug: Foam vehicle

Rosacea FAQ

  • What is rosacea?
  • Is rosacea like acne?
  • What causes rosacea?
  • What are risk factors for rosacea?
  • Is rosacea contagious?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of rosacea?
  • How is rosacea diagnosed?
  • What else could it be?
  • What happens to the nose?
  • What happens to the eyes?
  • How is rosacea cured?
  • What about using acne medicine?
  • What is used for treating rosacea?
  • What should be avoided?
  • What foods are good for rosacea?
  • What natural or home remedies can help rosacea?
  • Does rosacea get worse with age?
  • How should I care for the skin of my face?
  • How are the telangiectasias (the red lines) treated?
  • How is a rhinophyma (the W.C. Fields nose) treated?
  • What effect may rosacea have on my life?
  • For more information
  • Rosacea t A Glance

What is rosacea?

Rosacea (roz-ay-sha) is a very common red, acne-like benign skin condition that affects many people worldwide. As of 2010, rosacea is estimated to affect at least 16 million people in the United States alone and approximately 45 million worldwide. Most people with rosacea are Caucasian and have fair skin. The main symptoms of rosacea include red or pink patches, visible tinybroken blood vessels, small red bumps, red cysts, and pink or irritated eyes. Most people with the disease may not even know they have rosacea or that it is a diagnosable and treatable condition. Many people who have rosacea may just assume they blush or flush easily or are just very sun sensitive. .

Rosacea is considered a chronic (long-term), non-curable skin condition with periodic ups and downs. As opposed to traditional or teenage acne, most adult patients do not “outgrow” rosacea. Rosacea characteristically involves the central region of the face, causing persistent redness or transient flushing over the areas of the face and nose that normally blush — mainly the forehead, the chin and the lower half of the nose. It is most commonly seen in people with light skin, and particularly in those of English, Irish and Scottish backgrounds. Some famous people with rosacea have included former President Bill Clinton and W.C. Fields.

The redness in rosacea, often aggravated by flushing, may cause small blood vessels in the face to enlarge (dilate) and become more visible through the skin, appearing like tiny red lines (called telangiectasias). Continual or repeated episodes of flushing and blushing may promote inflammation, causing small red bumps that often resemble teenage acne. In fact, rosacea can frequently be mistaken for common acne. Rosacea is also referred to as acne rosacea.

Is rosacea like acne?

Rosacea is basically different than acne, although the two can coexist. It is also sometimes called “adult acne.” Unlike common acne, rosacea is not primarily a plague of teenagers but occurs most often in adults (ages 30 to 50), especially those with fair skin. Different than acne, there are usually no blackheads or whiteheads in rosacea. Furthermore, most teens eventually outgrow acne whereas patients with rosacea don’t generally outgrow it. Rosacea consists mostly of small red bumps that are not “squeezable” or extractable like blackheads. Squeezing a rosacea pimple usually causes a scant amount of clear liquid to expel. Unlike traditional acne where professional extractions can help remove whiteheads and blackheads, squeezing or extracting rosacea bumps does not help improve the rosacea.  People with rosacea individuals  tend to have a rosy or pink color to their skin as opposed to acne patients whose skin is usually less red.

Rosacea strikes both sexes and potentially all ages. Overall, it tends to be more frequent in women but more severe in men. It is very uncommon in children, and it is very infrequently seen in darker skin tones or black skin. Overall, it is seen in light-featured adults between 30-50 years of age.

Rosacea is sometimes called “adult acne.”

What causes rosacea?

The exact cause of rosacea is still unknown and remains a mystery. The basic process seems to involve dilation of the small blood vessels of the face. Suspected causes of rosacea include but are not limited to genetic factors, genetics plus sun exposure, a mite sometimes found in hair follicles (Demodex folliculorum), the bacteria Helicobacter pylori (that is associated with stomach ulcers), gastrointestinal disease, and medications that cause blood vessels to widen. There seems to be a hereditary component to rosacea in a large number of  people. Often people have close family members with rosacea.

Rosacea tends to affect the “blush” areas of the face and is more common in people who flush easily. Additionally, a variety of triggers are known to cause rosacea to flare. Emotional factors (stress, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, etc.) may trigger blushing and aggravate rosacea. A flare-up can be caused by changes in the weather like strong winds or a change in the humidity. Sun exposure and sun-damaged skin is generally associated with rosacea. Exercise, alcohol consumption, emotional upsets, and spicy food are other well-known triggers that may aggravate rosacea. Many patients may also notice flares around the holidays, particularly Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

What are risk factors for rosacea?

Rosacea risk factors include fair skin, English, Irish or Scottish heredity, easy blushing, and having other family members with rosacea called “positive family history”. Additional risk factors include female gender, menopause, and adults in the age range 30-50years old.

Is rosacea contagious?

No. Rosacea is not considered contagious or infectious. There is no evidence that rosacea can be spread by contact with the skin, sharing towels, or through inhalation.




What are the signs and symptoms of rosacea?

Typical signs and symptoms of rosacea include facial flushing, blushing, redness, burning, red bumps, and small cysts. The symptoms tend to come and go. The skin may be clear for weeks, months, or years and then erupt again. Rosacea tends to evolve in stages and typically causes inflammation of the skin of the face, particularly the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin.

When rosacea first develops, it may appear, then disappear, and then reappear. However, the skin may fail to return to its normal color and the enlarged blood vessels and pimples arrive in time. Rosacea may rarely reverse itself.

Rosacea generally lasts for years, and, if untreated, it tends to gradually worsen.



How is rosacea diagnosed?

Rosacea is usually diagnosed based on the typical red or blushed facial skin appearance and symptoms of easy facial blushing and flushing. Rosacea is largely under diagnosed and most people with rosacea often do not know they have the skin condition. Many people may not associate their intermittent flushing symptoms with a medical condition. The facial redness in rosacea may be transient and come and go very quickly.

Dermatologists are physicians who are specially trained in the diagnosis of rosacea. Generally no specific tests are required for the diagnosis of rosacea.

In unusual cases, a skin biopsy may be required to help confirm the diagnosis of rosacea.  Occasionally, a non-invasive test called a skin scraping may be performed by the dermatologist in the office to help exclude a skin mite infestation by Demodex which can look just like rosacea. A skin culture can help exclude other causes of facial skin bumps like staph infections or herpes infections. Blood tests are not generally required but may be used to help exclude less common causes of facial blushing and flushing including lupus, other autoimmune conditions, and dermatomyositis.

 What else could it be?

While most cases of rosacea are fairly straightforward, there are some atypical cases that are not as easy to diagnose. Other conditions and rosacea look-alikes include:

  • Acne vulgaris
  • Demodex folliculitis
  • Staph  infection
  • Lupus
  • Medication reaction (example: niacin)
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Allergic or contact dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Allergic conjunctivitis
  • Perioral dermatitis
  • Carcinoid Syndrome
  • Impetigo
  • Herpes Simplex



What happens to the nose?

The nose is typically one of the first facial areas to be affected in rosacea. It can become red and bumpy and develop noticeable dilated small blood vessels. Left untreated, advanced stages of rosacea can cause a disfiguring nose condition called rhinophyma (ryno-fy-ma), literally growth of the nose, characterized by a bulbous, enlarged red nose and puffy cheeks (like the old comedian W.C. Fields). There may also be thick bumps on the lower half of the nose and the nearby cheek areas. Rhinophyma occurs mainly in men. Severe rhinophyma can require surgical correction and repair.


Some people falsely attribute the prominent red nose to excessive alcohol intake, and this stigma can cause embarrassment to those with rosacea. Although a red nose may be seen in patients with heavy alcohol use, not every patient with rosacea abuses alcohol.

What happens to the eyes?

Rosacea may or may not affect the eyes. Not everyone with rosacea has eye issues. A complication of advanced rosacea, known as ocular rosacea, affects the eyes. About half of all people with rosacea report feeling burning, dryness, and grittiness of the eyes (conjunctivitis). These individuals may also experience redness of the eyelids and light sensitivity. Often the eye symptoms may go completely unnoticed and not be a major concern for the individual. Many times, the physician or ophthalmologist may be the first one to notice the eye symptoms. Untreated, ocular rosacea may cause a serious complication that can damage the cornea, called rosacea keratitis. An ophthalmologist can assist in a proper eye evaluation and prescribe rosacea eye drops. Oral antibiotics may be useful to treat skin and eye rosacea. Untreated eye rosacea may cause permanent damage, including impaired vision.

How is rosacea cured?

Rosacea is currently not considered a curable condition. While it cannot be cured, it can usually be controlled with proper, regular treatments.

There are some forms of rosacea that may be significantly cleared for long periods of time using laser, intense pulse light, photodynamic therapy, or isotretinoin (Accutane). Although still not considered a “cure,” some patients experience long-lasting results and may have remissions (disease-free period of time) for months to years.

What about using acne medicine?

Since there is some overlap between acne and rosacea, some of the medications may be similar. Acne and rosacea have in common several possible treatments including (but not limited to) oral antibiotics, topical antibiotics, sulfa-based face washes, isotretinoin, and many others. It is important to seek a physician’s advice before using random over-the-counter acne medications since they can actually irritate skin that is prone to rosacea. Overall, rosacea skin tends to be more sensitive and easily irritated than that of common acne.

What is used for treating rosacea?

There are many treatment choices for rosacea depending on the severity and extent of symptoms. Available medical treatments include antibacterial washes, topical creams, antibiotic pills, lasers, pulsed-light therapies, photodynamic therapy, and isotretinoin.

Mild rosacea may not necessarily require treatment if the individual is not bothered by the condition. More resistant cases may require a combination approach, using several of the treatments at the same time. A combination approach may include home care of washing with a prescription sulfa wash twice a day, applying an antibacterial cream morning and night, and taking an oral antibiotic for flares. A series of in-office laser, intense pulsed light or photodynamic therapies may also be used in combination with the home regimen. It is advisable to seek a physician’s care for the proper evaluation and treatment of rosacea.

Topical creams

With the proper treatment, rosacea symptoms can be fairly well controlled. Popular methods of treatment include topical (skin) medications applied by the patient once or twice a day. Topical antibiotic medication such as metronidazole applied one to two times a day after cleansing may significantly improve rosacea. Azelaic acid (Finacea gel 15%) is another effective treatment for patients with rosacea. Both metronidazole and azelaic acid work to control the redness and bumps in rosacea.

Some patients elect combination therapies and notice an improvement by alternating metronidazole and azelaic acid: using one in the morning and one at night. Sodium sulfacetamide (Klaron lotion) is also known to help reduce inflammation. Other topical antibiotic creams include erythromycin and clindamycin (Cleocin).

Common topical medications used either 1-2 times a day:

  • (Finacea gel 15%)
  • (Klaron lotion)
  • gel (Erygel)
  • Clindamycin gel, solution, or lotion (Cleocin).




Oral antibiotics

Oral antibiotics are also commonly prescribed to patients with moderate rosacea. Tetracycline, doxycycline, minocycline, and amoxicillin are among the many oral antibiotics commonly prescribed and they actually help reduce inflammation and pimples in rosacea. A newer low dose doxycycline preparation called Oracea 40mg once a day has been used in rosacea. The dose may be initially high and then be tapered to maintenance levels. Common side effects and potential risks should be considered before taking oral antibiotics.

Oral antibiotics include:

  • 100mg
  • 500mg

Miscellaneous Medications

Short-term topical cortisone (steroid) preparations of minimal strength may in occasional cases also be used to reduce local inflammation. Some mild steroids include desonide lotion or hydrocortisone 0.5% or 1% cream applied sparingly once or twice a day just to the irritated areas. There is a risk of causing a rosacea flare by using topical steroids. Prolonged use of topical steroids on the face can also cause Perioral dermatitis.

Some doctors may also prescribe tretinoin (Retin-A), tazarotene (Tazorac), or adapalene (Differin) which are prescription medications also used for acne. Rarely, permethrin (Elimite) cream is prescribed for rosacea cases that are associated with skin mites. Permethrin is also used for the body mites that cause scabies.

Isotretinoin (Accutane)

Isotretinoin is infrequently prescribed in cases of  severe and resistant rosacea. Often it is used after multiple other therapies have been tried for some time and have failed. It is used as a daily capsule for 4-6 months. Isotretinoin is not typically used in rosacea and it is most commonly used in the treatment of severe, common acne called acne vulgaris. Close physician monitoring and blood testing are necessary while on isotretinoin. Typically at least 2 forms of birth control are required for females on this medication and pregnancy is absolutely contraindicated while on isotretinoin.


In addition, prescription or over-the-counter sensitive skin cleansers may also provide symptom relief and control. Harsh soaps and lotions should be avoided, whereas simple and pure products such as Cetaphil or Purpose gentle skin cleanser may be less irritating. Patients should avoid excessive rubbing or scrubbing the face.

  • Cetaphil Cleanser
  • Purpose Soap
  • Sulfa based washes ( example: Rosanil)
  • Benzoyl Peroxide washes  (example: Clearasil)


Laser and intense pulsed light

Many patients are now turning to laser and intense-light treatments to treat the continual redness and noticeable blood vessels on the face, neck, and chest. Often considered a safe alternative, laser and intense pulse-light therapy may help to visibly improve the skin and complexion.

Laser treatment may cause some discomfort. While most patients are able to endure the procedure, ice packs and topical anesthetic cream can help alleviate the discomfort. Multiple treatments are typically necessary and the procedure is not covered by most insurances. Treatments are recommended in three- to six-week intervals; during this time, sun avoidance is necessary. Risk, benefits, and alternatives should be reviewed with your physician prior to treatment. Laser treatments may be combined with photodynamic therapy (light-activated chemical using Levulan) for more noticeable results.

Photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is one of the newly available treatments. PDT uses a topical photosensitizer liquid that is applied to the skin and a light to activate the sensitizer. Levulan (aminolevulonic acid) and blue light, commonly used to treat pre-cancers (actinic keratosis) and acne vulgaris, can also be used to treat some rosacea patients. The use of PDT in rosacea is considered off-label use to some extent, since it is primarily designed for regular acne. PDT is thought to work at reducing the inflammation, pimples, and also improving the skin texture. PDT is an in-office procedure performed in your physician’s office. The treatment takes anywhere from one to one and a half hours to complete. Strict sun avoidance for approximately one to three days is required after the treatment. Mild discomfort during the treatment and a mild to moderate sunburn appearance after the treatment is common. Some patients have experienced remissions (disease free periods) of several months to years from these types of treatments. Other patients may not notice significant improvement.

Glycolic peels

Glycolic-acid peels may additionally help improve and control rosacea in some people. The chemical peels can professionally be applied for approximately two to five minutes every two to four weeks. Mild stinging, itching, or burning may occur and some patients experience peeling for several days after the peel. Any peel can irritate very sensitive skin and cause flares for some people. Peels should be used with caution in rosacea as not everyone is bale to tolerate these treatments.

Sun protection

Sun exposure is a well known flare for many rosacea sufferers. Sun protection using a wide-brimmed hat (at least 6 inches) and physical sunscreens  (like zinc or titanium) are generally encouraged. Because rosacea tends to occur in mostly fair-skinned adults, the use of an appropriate daily sunscreen lotion and overall sun avoidance is recommended. Zinc-based sunscreens (SPF 30 or higher) provide superior sun protection.

What should be avoided?

While not all rosacea people are exactly the same, there are some common rosacea triggers. Avoiding these potential triggers may also help relieve symptoms and disease flares. It may be helpful to keep a personal diary of foods and other triggers that flare rosacea symptoms.

Smoking, spicy foods, hot drinks, and alcohol may cause flushing and should be avoided. Exposure to sunlight and to extreme hot and cold temperatures should be limited as much as possible. Red wine and chocolate are two well known rosacea triggers. Some listed foods may have no effect on your rosacea but severely affect someone else. Individual reaction patterns vary greatly in rosacea and therefore a food diary may help to elucidate your special triggers.

Possible rosacea dietary triggers include:

  • Dairy including yogurt ,sour cream, cheese (except cottage cheese)
  • Alcohol including red wine, beer, vodka, gin, bourbon, and champagne
  • Chocolate  
  • Soy sauce
  • Yeast extract
  • Eggplants, Avocados, Spinach
  • Some beans and pods, including lima, navy or peas
  • Citrus fruits, including tomatoes, bananas, red plums, raisins or figs
  • Spicy and temperature hot foods

Potent cortisone or steroid medications on the face should be avoided because they can promote widening of the tiny blood vessels of the face. Some patients experience severe rosacea flares after prolonged use of topical steroids.

Vasodilator pills can also flare rosacea. Vasodilators include several blood pressure medications like nitrates, calcium channel blockers, and thiazide diuretics.

These potential triggers are found in many skin cleansers and should be avoided in rosacea.

  • Alcohol
  • Witch hazel
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Clove oil
  • Fragrance
  • Menthol
  • Salicylic acid




What foods are good for rosacea?

Foods that help avoid rosacea flares include less spicy meals, non-alcoholic cool beverages, caffeine-free drinks, non-dairy cheese, and thermally cooler meals.

What natural remedies can help rosacea?

Rosacea skin tends to be fairly sensitive and may easily flare with self treatment or common acne therapies. Any home treatment or attempts for natural remedies should be approached with mild caution. As with any rosacea therapy, some people may experience sensitivity or irritation with treatment. Several possible natural remedies including dilute vinegar cleansing and green tea applications may be useful in rosacea.

Dilute white vinegar facial soaks or cleansing daily or weekly using approximately 1 part regular table vinegar to 6 parts water may be helpful. Vinegar is thought to help as a natural disinfectant and can help decrease the number of yeasts and bacteria on the skin. Since vinegar may flare rosacea in some people, a small test area should be tries before applying to the entire face.

Green tea soaks to the face may also help decrease the redness and inflammation seen in rosacea. Green tea is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. A few commercially available products also use green tea as the active ingredient.

Does rosacea get worse with age?

Yes. Although rosacea has a variable course and is not predictable in everyone, overall it tends to gradually worsen with age, especially if untreated.  In small studies, many rosacea sufferers have reported that without treatment their condition had advanced from early to middle stage within a year.  With good therapy, it is possible to prevent progression of rosacea.

How should I care for the skin of my face?

Proper skin care involves using a gentle cleanser to wash the face twice a day. Over-washing may cause irritation. A sunscreen lotion is advisable each morning. Your physician may prescribe a topical antibiotic to use once or twice a day under your sunscreen.

Rubbing the face tends to irritate the reddened skin. Some cosmetics and hair sprays may also aggravate redness and swelling.

  • Gentle skin cleanser twice a day
  • Sunscreen in AM
  • Sun avoidance

Facial products such as soap, moisturizers, and sunscreens should be free of alcohol or other irritating ingredients. Moisturizers should be applied very gently after any topical medication has dried. When going outdoors, sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher are needed.

How are the telangiectasias (the red lines) treated?

Telangiectasias are the small blood vessels that arise on the surface of the skin, commonly on around the nose, cheeks, and chin.

Simple cover-up makeup can be used for the telangiectasias. There are some green-based moisturizers or tinted foundations that may help conceal the redness.

Telangiectasias can also be medically treated in your physician’s office with a small electric needle, a laser, intense pulse light, or minor surgery to close off the dilated blood vessels. Usually, multiple treatments are required for best results and only a portion of the blood vessels may be improved with each treatment. Not everyone responds the same to these types of treatments, and your physician can help you decide which treatment is best for your skin type, condition, and size of blood vessels.

  • Electrocautery
  • Laser
  • Intense Pulse Light Therapy

How is a rhinophyma (the W.C. Fields nose) treated?

Rhinophyma of the nose is frequently treated by surgery. The excess tissue may be removed with a scalpel, laser, or electro surgery. Dermabrasion can help improve the look of the scar tissue. Follow-up treatments with laser or intense pulsed light may help lessen the redness. Medical maintenance therapy with oral and or topical antibiotics may be useful to decrease the chance of recurrence.

What effect may rosacea have on my life?

Rosacea may affect your life minimally, moderately, or severely depending on how active the condition is and your overall tolerance of the skin symptoms.

Some people have absolutely no symptoms and are not bothered at all by their rosacea. They may enjoy perfectly healthy normal lives without any effect from this benign skin condition. Some patients really like the pink glow to their cheeks and find it gives them a pleasant color without having to use blush. They may not even know they have rosacea. They usually do not want to use any treatment.

People with moderate rosacea may have periodic flares that require treatment with oral antibiotics, lasers, and other therapies. They may continuously take an antibiotic daily for years and years to keep their symptoms under control. Many of these people may complain of embarrassment from the flushing and blushing of rosacea. They may have ups and downs and times that their disease is quiet and other times when it feels like it is on fire. With the help of their physician, these patients can learn the pattern of their rosacea and develop a treatment plan to keep it from interfering in their daily lives.

Other patients have very bothersome rosacea that causes them issues on a daily basis. There are subsets of severe rosacea sufferers who have extreme psychological, social, and emotional symptoms. Some have developed social phobias causing them to cancel or leave situations when their rosacea is flaring or active. Some patients complain of looking like they have been drinking alcohol when in fact they don’t drink at all. Although rosacea is not a grave medical situation, severe cases may wreak havoc in some patient’s lives. It is important for these patients to discuss their physical and emotional concerns with their physicians and to get professional help in treating their rosacea.

Overall, promptly diagnosed and properly treated, rosacea should not prevent people with the condition from enjoying long and productive lives.

Additional information is available from the American Academy of Dermatology at Names of U.S. board certified dermatologists are available on this website.



Rosacea at a Glance

  • Rosacea is a common, chronic, incurable, adult, acne-like skin condition.
  • It has periodic ups and downs (flares and remissions).
  • Rosacea symptoms tend to come and go.
  • It is easily controllable and medically manageable.
  • Rosacea may begin with easy facial blushing or flushing.
  • Rosacea  commonly affects the central third of the face, especially the nose.
  • Rosacea causes tiny red pimples and fine red lines on the facial skin.
  • Rosacea may be mistaken for rosy cheeks, sunburn, or quite often, acne.
  • Rosacea triggers include alcohol, hot or spicy foods, emotional stress, and heat.
  • Rosacea can be a very bothersome and embarrassing condition.
  • Untreated rosacea tends to worsen over the time and be a progressive disease.
  • Rosacea untreated can cause a bulbous red nose (like W.C. Fields).
  • Prompt recognition and proper treatment permit people with rosacea to enjoy life.



Information in this publication and site is not intended to serve as medical advice. Individuals may use the information as a guide to discuss their treatments with their own physicians. This site does not promote nor endorse the unauthorized practice of medicine by non-physicians or state licensed health care providers.
Medicine is a constantly changing science and not all therapies are clearly established. New research changes drug and treatment therapies daily. The authors, editors, and publisher of these artciles have used their best efforts to provide information that is up-to-date and accurate and is generally accepted within medical standards at the time of publication. However, as medical science is constantly changing and human error is always possible, the authors, editors, and publisher or any other party involved with the publication of this article do not warrant the information in this article is accurate or complete, nor are they responsible for omissions or errors in the article or for the results of using this information. The reader should confirm the information in this article from other sources prior to use. In particular, all drug doses, indications, and contraindications should be confirmed in the package insert.

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Interventions: Drug: Azithromycin microspheres;   Drug: minocycline-placebo capsules;   Drug: Azithromycin microspheres-placebo;   Drug: Minocycline capsules,
16 Active, not recruiting NdYag Laser for Acne Keloidalis Nuchae

Conditions: Acne Keloidalis Nuchae;   NdYag Laser;   AKN;   Acne Keloidalis;   AK;   Dermatitis Papillaris Capillitii;   Folliculitis Keloidalis Nuchae;   Sycosis Nuchae;   Acne Keloid;   Keloidal Folliculitis;   Lichen Keloidalis Nuchae;   Folliculitis Nuchae Scleroticans;   Sycosis Framboesiformis
Interventions: Device: NdYag Laser(hair removal laser) plus topical corticosteroid;   Drug: Topical corticosteroid alone
17 Recruiting A Study to Examine the Safety and Efficacy Of Drospirenone and Ethinyl Estradiol (YAZ) Compared With Placebo In The Treatment Of Moderate Truncal Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: drospirenone and ethinyl estradiol;   Drug: Placebo tablets
18 Completed Microdermabrasion for Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Device: microdermabrasion
19 Enrolling by invitation Proof of Concept Study to Investigate the Recurrence of Acne Post Isotretinoin

Condition: Acne
Interventions: Drug: tretinoin microsphere 0.04% gel;   Drug: vehicle gel
20 Completed Infrared Non-Cutting Laser Therapy for Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Device: CoolTouch II laser

21 Active, not recruiting Non-Cutting Laser Therapy in the Treatment of Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Device: V-Beam laser, Candela Corp., 595 nm wavelength
22 Completed Study of Two Different 10.0% Benzoyl Peroxide Creams for Mild to Moderate Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Drug: topical benzoyl peroxide 10.0% cream – Formulations #1 and #2
23 Active, not recruiting Trial of Clindamycin / Benzoyl Peroxide Gel in Subjects With Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: clindamycin / benzoyl peroxide gel;   Drug: clindamycin gel;   Drug: BPO gel;   Drug: vehicle gel
24 Completed Safety and Efficacy Study of Topical Methyaminlevulinate (MAL) in Subjects With Facial Acne

Condition: Acne
Intervention: Drug: MAL
25 Completed A Split-Face, Paired-Comparison, Pilot Study to Evaluate Safety and Efficacy of Two Topical Salicylic Acid 1.0% Creams for Mild to Moderate Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Drug: topical salicylic acid 1.0% cream
26 Completed Comparison of Efficacy and Safety of Azelaic Acid 15% Gel With Its Vehicle in Subjects With Mild to Moderate Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Azelaic Acid Gel 15% (Finacea, BAY39-6251);   Drug: Vehicle gel (SH H 655 PBA)
27 Completed Evaluation of the Effectiveness, Safety, and Tolerability of Duac Akne Gel and Epiduo Gel in the Treatment of Facial Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Epiduo Gel;   Drug: Duac Gel
28 Completed A Study to Evaluate Tolerability of Two Topical Drug Products in the Treatment of Facial Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: clindamycin and benzoyl peroxide gel (Duac® Topical Gel);   Drug: benzoyl peroxide and adapalene gel (EPIDUO™ Gel)
29 Recruiting the Comparison Efficacy of Azithromycin With Doxycycline in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne
Interventions: Drug: Doxycycline;   Drug: Azithromycin
30 Completed Comparison of Stacked-Pulses Vs. Double-Pass Treatments of Facial Acne With a 1450 Nm Laser

Conditions: Acne;   Acne Scars
Intervention: Device: 1450nm diode laser
31 Completed Phase IV Study to Gather More Information About the Safety of ACZONE Gel, 5% in Treating Subjects With Acne Who Have G6PD Deficiency

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: ACZONE Gel, 5%;   Drug: Vehicle
32 Recruiting Safety and Efficacy of the Use of Botox on Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Botulinum Neurotoxin Type A;   Drug: Bacteriostatic saline
33 Completed Study to Demonstrate the Efficacy and Safety of Adapalene/Benzoyl Peroxide Topical Gel in Subjects With Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Drug: Adapalene/Benzoyl Peroxide
34 Recruiting A Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of Tazarotene Foam, 0.1%, in Subjects With Common Facial Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Tazarotene Foam;   Drug: Vehicle Foam
35 Completed Fractional Resurfacing Device for Treatment of Acne Scarring

Condition: Acne Scarring
Intervention: Device: 10,600 nm fractional CO2 laser system
36 Active, not recruiting Efficacy & Safety of Clindamycin and Tretinoin in Acne

Condition: Acne
Intervention: Drug: Clindamycin Phosphate 1.2% and Tretinoin 0.025% Gel
37 Completed A Phase 2 Study of ASC-J9 Cream in Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: ASC-J9 cream;   Drug: placebo
38 Completed Study of Benzoyl Peroxide Cream for Mild to Moderate Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Drug: Benzoyl Peroxide
39 Completed Measuring Adherence in Subjects With Acne Vulgaris in a Clinic Population Subtitle: Topical Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Drug: Benzoyl Peroxide
40 Active, not recruiting Safety and Efficacy of 1550nm Fractional Laser Treatment for Acne Scars in Fitzpatrick Type IV-VI Skin

Condition: Acne Scarring
Intervention: Procedure: Fractionated Laser Resurfacing
41 Completed Safety and Efficacy Study of Clindamycin/Benzoyl Peroxide/Tazarotene Cream in Subjects With Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin gel + tazarotene cream;   Drug: Benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin gel + vehicle cream;   Drug: Benzoyl peroxide gel + tazarotene cream;   Drug: Clindamycin gel + tazarotene cream;   Drug: Vehicle gel+ tazarotene cream;   Drug: Vehicle gel + vehicle cream
42 Recruiting Apremilast in the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Acne

Condition: Acne
Intervention: Drug: apremilast
43 Completed
Has Results
Treatment of Acne Vulgaris With Doryx Tablets Compared to Doxycyline Hyclate

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Doxycycline hyclate (Doryx);   Drug: Doxycycline hyclate
44 Not yet recruiting Safety and Efficacy Study of Acnase Creme in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris I and II

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Benzoyl Peroxide 5% and Sulphur 2%;   Drug: Vehicle of Acnase
45 Recruiting Study to Compare the Acne Relapse Rate of Oral Minocycline to Oral Minocycline in Combination With Topical Tretinoin, Followed by Topical Tretinoin Alone

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Minocycline;   Drug: Minocycline + Tretinoin 0.01%
46 Active, not recruiting Efficacy and Safety Study of Finacea to Treat Acne Vulgaris and Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

Conditions: Acne Vulgaris;   Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation
Intervention: Drug: Azelaic acid
47 Completed The Development and Evaluation of an “E-Visit” Program for the Management of Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Other: Evisit;   Other: Office visit
48 Completed Pulsed Dye Laser Treatment of Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Fixed combination of clindamycin 1% + benzoyl peroxide 5%;   Device: Pulsed dye laser
49 Withdrawn The Treatment of Acne Vulgaris With Radiofrequency Device

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Device: Radio Frequency
50 Completed Efficacy and Tolerance of a Derivative of Salicylic Acid and 5% Benzoyl Peroxide in Facial Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Lipo Hydroxy Acid;   Drug: 5% benzoyl peroxide gel
51 Terminated Topical 5-ALA-PDT With Blu-U Therapy Versus Topical 5-ALA With Pulse Dye Laser In Treating Recalcitrant Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: 5-ALA with Blu-U Light;   Drug: 5-ALA with Candela V-beam Pulse Dye Laser
52 Completed A Comparative Study of the Tolerability of Two Combination Therapies for the Treatment of Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
53 Completed Evaluate Safety & Efficacy of an OC Preparation vs Placebo for 6 Treatment Cycles in Women With Moderate Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: YAZ (DRSP 3 mg/EE 0.02 mg, BAY86-5300);   Drug: Placebo
54 Completed Evaluate Safety & Efficacy of an Oral Contraceptive (OC) Preparation Versus Placebo for 6 Treatment Cycles in Women With Moderate Acne

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: YAZ (DRSP 3 mg/EE 0.02 mg, BAY86-5300);   Drug: Placebo
55 Recruiting A Study to Evaluate the Efficacy of Silk – Like Bedding Fabric, as Used in a Standard Pillow Case, in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Device: silk-like fabric standard pillowcase;   Device: pillowcase made of 100% cotton
56 Recruiting “A Randomized, Controlled, Evaluator-blinded Pilot Study to Evaluate the Effect of Automated Text Message Reminders on Patient Compliance With Topical Medications and Its Efficacy on Skin Disease Control in Adolescents and Adults With Mild to Moderate Acne”

Conditions: Acne;   Patient Compliance
Intervention: Other: Text message reminders
57 Completed Safety and Efficacy Study of Association Between Tretinoin and Clindamycin on the Treatment of Acne Mild and Moderate

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Intervention: Drug: application of the topic gel
58 Recruiting Exploratory Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of CD07223 Gel in Subjects With Acne

Condition: Acne
Intervention: Drug: Epiduo vehicle gel
59 Completed
Has Results
A Study to Demonstrate the Efficacy and Safety of Adapalene/Benzoyl Peroxide Topical Gel in Subjects With Acne Vulgaris

Condition: Acne Vulgaris
Interventions: Drug: Adapalene/Benzoyl Peroxide;   Drug: Adapalene;   Drug: Benzoyl Peroxide;   Drug: Topical Gel Vehicle
60 Not yet recruiting Open and Comparative Study to Measure Tolerability and Efficacy of Taro Elixir

Conditions: Acne Vulgaris II or III Degree;   Boils
Interventions: Drug: oxytetracycline, taro elixir;   Drug: Taro Elixir

Acne Facts

Audio Version of this Document | Time: 08:14 | Size: 7.7 MB

What Is Acne?
Fast Facts: An Easy-to-Read Series of Publications for the Public

Acne is a disease that affects the skin’s oil glands. The small holes in your skin (pores) connect to oil glands under the skin. These glands make an oily substance called sebum. The pores connect to the glands by a canal called a follicle. Inside the follicles, oil carries dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. A thin hair also grows through the follicle and out to the skin. When the follicle of a skin gland clogs up, a pimple grows.

Most pimples are found on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Acne is not a serious health threat but, it can cause scars.

How Does Acne Develop?
Who Gets Acne?
What Causes Acne?
How Is Acne Treated?
How Should People With Acne Care for Their Skin?
What Things Can Make Acne Worse?
What Are Some Myths About the Causes of Acne?
What Research Is Being Done on Acne?

How Does Acne Develop?

Sometimes, the hair, sebum, and skin cells clump together into a plug. The bacteria in the plug causes swelling. Then when the plug starts to break down, a pimple grows.

There are many types of pimples. The most common types are:

  • Whiteheads. These are pimples that stay under the surface of the skin.
  • Blackheads. These pimples rise to the skin’s surface and look black. The black color is not from dirt.
  • Papules. These are small pink bumps that can be tender.
  • Pustules. These pimples are red at the bottom and have pus on top.
  • Nodules. These are large, painful, solid pimples that are deep in the skin.
  • Cysts. These deep, painful, pus-filled pimples can cause scars.

Who Gets Acne?

Acne is the most common skin disease. People of all races and ages get acne. But it is most common in teenagers and young adults. An estimated 80 percent of all people between the ages of 11 and 30 have acne outbreaks at some point. Some people in their forties and fifties still get acne.

What Causes Acne?

The cause of acne is unknown. Doctors think certain factors might cause it:

  • The hormone increase in teenage years (this can cause the oil glands to plug up more often)
  • Hormone changes during pregnancy
  • Starting or stopping birth control pills
  • Heredity (if your parents had acne, you might get it, too)
  • Some types of medicine
  • Greasy makeup.

How Is Acne Treated?

Acne is treated by doctors who work with skin problems (dermatologists). Treatment tries to:

  • Heal pimples
  • Stop new pimples from forming
  • Prevent scarring
  • Help reduce the embarrassment of having acne.

Early treatment is the best way to prevent scars. Your doctor may suggest over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs. Some acne medicines are put right on the skin. Other medicines are pills that you swallow. The doctor may tell you to use more than one medicine.

How Should People With Acne Care for Their Skin?

Here are some ways to care for skin if you have acne:

  • Clean skin gently. Use a mild cleanser in the morning, evening, and after heavy workouts. Scrubbing the skin does not stop acne. It can even make the problem worse.
  • Try not to touch your skin. People who squeeze, pinch, or pick their pimples can get scars or dark spots on their skin.
  • Shave carefully. If you shave, you can try both electric and safety razors to see which works best. With safety razors, use a sharp blade. Also, it helps to soften your beard with soap and water before putting on shaving cream. Shave lightly and only when you have to.
  • Stay out of the sun. Many acne medicines can make people more likely to sunburn. Being in the sun a lot can also make skin wrinkle and raise the risk of skin cancer.
  • Choose makeup carefully. All makeup should be oil free. Look for the word “noncomedogenic” on the label. This means that the makeup will not clog up your pores. But some people still get acne even if they use these products.

What Things Can Make Acne Worse?

Some things can make acne worse:

  • Changing hormone levels in teenage girls and adult women 2 to 7 days before their period starts
  • Pressure from bike helmets, backpacks, or tight collars
  • Pollution and high humidity
  • Squeezing or picking at pimples
  • Hard scrubbing of the skin.

What Are Some Myths About the Causes of Acne?

There are many myths about what causes acne. Dirty skin and stress do not cause acne. Also, chocolate and greasy foods do not cause acne in most people.

What Research Is Being Done on Acne?

Scientists are looking at new ways to treat acne. They are:

  • Working on new drugs to treat acne
  • Looking at ways to prevent plugs
  • Looking at ways to stop the hormone testosterone from causing acne.

For More Information on Acne and Other Related Conditions:

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Information Clearinghouse
National Institutes of Health

1 AMS Circle
Bethesda,  MD 20892-3675
Phone: 301-495-4484
Toll Free: 877-22-NIAMS (226-4267)
TTY: 301–565–2966
Fax: 301-718-6366
Email: [email protected]