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New Treatment for Rosacea

A new, safe, and promising therapy option may be more effective in treating the 14 million Americans who suffer from rosacea, a chronic skin disease that causes persistent redness on the nose and cheeks.

Researchers applied a new formulation of azelaic acid gel to the faces of rosacea sufferers. //The new product contains 15 percent azelaic acid and is specifically made for rosacea. Typically it has a different formula and is used to treat acne. Many rosacea patients are generally treated with metronidazole gel, an antibiotic commonly used to treat infections of the small intestines and colon.

In a study, researchers compared the safety and efficacy of azelaic gel versus metronidazole gel in rosacea patients. They found the azelaic gel was better at reducing the number of lesions associated with rosacea and better at reducing the redness in patient’s faces than the metronidazole gel. Also, the metronidazole gel’s effectiveness plateaued after eight weeks, but the azelaic gel showed progressive effectiveness through the 15-week study.

Rosacea causes tiny blood vessels in the face to enlarge and become more visible through the skin. The vessels appear as tiny red lines, called telangiectasias. Rosacea can also cause pimples to occur, even though rosacea usually affects adults between ages 30 and 60. Study authors say the disease usually responds well to topical antimicrobials -- creams or gels that kill microorganisms like bacteria even though doctors have not been able to identify a microbiologic cause of rosacea. There is no cure for rosacea and if left untreated, it worsens.

Researchers say their study shows azelaic acid gel is consistently superior to metronidazole gel in improving the principal signs of rosacea, such as redness and inflammation. In the azelaic acid gel group, 78 percent of the patients rated their improvement as excellent or good, compared to 64 percent in the metronidazole gel grou.

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