Chances are, if you're one of the 10 percent of Americans who suffers from rosacea, you knew it well before you got the official diagnosis from your doctor. Rosacea is a chronic skin disorder characterized by red cheeks that flush easily, visible blood vessels, swelling, acne-like breakouts, and even vision problems. It occurs most frequently on the nose and cheeks, but patches of rosacea can also be found on the ears, chest, back and eyelids. For many people, there's no physical pain associated with rosacea, but the comments your red cheeks elicit from strangers can be embarrassing at times.
Researchers still don't know what causes rosacea, nor do they have a cure for it. But there are a number of natural remedies that can be used to ease symptoms. From herbal teas to aloe vera gels, here are some of the natural choices you can use to reduce the redness, swelling and irritation.
There are plenty of studies touting the health benefits of drinking green tea. It's loaded with antioxidants and can aid in weight loss, glucose regulation and may help prevent heart disease and cancer. But it can also be applied topically to soothe skin and relieve inflammation.
In this study, published in the journal Skin Med, researchers expound on the efficacy of green tea as a topical remedy for rosacea. Dr. Sejal Shah, a board-certified dermatologist and RealSelf contributor, told MNN that green tea also contains a component called Epigallocatechin-
To get relief, brew a batch of green tea, pop it in the fridge to cool, and apply with a clean cloth to reddened, irritated areas.
You might be surprised to learn that one of your favorite breakfast options is as good for your skin as it is for the rest of your body. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, colloidal oatmeal (the kind that has been ground down to form a powder) "provides temporary skin protection and relieves minor skin irritation and itching due to poison oak, poison ivy, poison sumac, and insect bites." And this study, published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, concluded that "the properties that make oatmeal useful for these itchy and allergic conditions ... make it an especially efficacious ingredient for rosacea therapies."
According to Shah, "oatmeal is not only an anti-inflammatory but it also hydrates and helps restore the skin barrier." This is particular useful for people with rosacea who have impaired skin barrier function.
The easiest way to use oatmeal to treat rosacea is to make a paste by grinding the oatmeal down to a flour consistency in a food processor and then mixing with water. Apply the oatmeal paste to skin and let it rest for 20 minutes before washing off gently with cool water.
Glycyrrhizin, one of the main ingredients in licorice, has been shown to help reduce inflammation and soothe irritation. A recent study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found that topical creams containing licorice can reduce the redness and irritation association with rosacea within 4 to 8 weeks.
The same properties that make aloe vera effective at treating sunburn also make it useful in the treatment of rosacea. "Aloe vera soothes skin and can reduce redness and inflammation," says Shah.
Aloe vera gel (from the leaf or from a bottle) can be applied directly to the skin.
Feverfew and chamomile
These two plants, which come from similar botanical family, have both been used to treat rosacea and other skin conditions. A chamomile compress can be applied directly to the skin to reduce redness and irritation. Feverfew, however, contains an ingredient called parthenolide that can be irritating to the skin when it's applied topically. That's not helpful when you are trying to soothe irritated skin!
According to the book, "Feed Your Face: Younger, Smoother Skin and a Beautiful Body in 28 Delicious Days" by Dr. Jennifer Wu, you can still reap the benefits found in feverfew by using topical creams or ointments that contain fevewfew PFE (parthenolide-free extract) to reduce the symptoms of rosacea without adding any additional irritation.