Acne is the bane of many teenagers, but it can also affect adults. These bumps and blemishes may be partly due to inflammation, triggered by certain skin bacteria. Ordinary acne (acne vulgaris) is a completely different condition from acne rosacea, although in the initial stages they may look similar. Rosacea affects women more than men and usually strikes during middle age. It causes redness of the cheeks, nose, and forehead. Dermatologists are still debating the causes of rosacea. Research suggests that one important factor is inflammation triggered by cathelicidin, one of the skin’s innate immune defenses against bacteria, fungi, and some viruses.1 Treatment for rosacea has involved oral antibiotics (doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline) and topical antimicrobials (metronidazole). A topical gel containing azelaic acid (Finacea) can reduce the production of cathelicidin and improve symptoms. But the condition may not respond well to prescribed medications, leading to frustration. Home remedies are unproven but may be worth a try.
Two years ago a dermatologist diagnosed my skin condition as rosacea and prescribed topical tetracycline and MetroLotion to be applied twice daily. My condition did not improve. The redness and rash were chronic and seemed to be getting worse. I tried all kinds of products, including over-the-counter lotions and cortisone creams. Then I put Argo Corn Starch on the rosacea. One place on my cheek near my nose looked especially bad. To my surprise, in a week it healed. Now all I do is wash my face morning and night, then apply a light coat of cornstarch. I have not had a recurrence of rosacea. My face is smooth and clear. Am I an isolated case, or is cornstarch a reliable treatment?
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that affects the chin, cheeks, nose, or central forehead. Redness, bumps, pimples, and visible blood vessels are common. Its cause is somewhat mysterious, but dermatologists often treat rosacea with oral antibiotics or topical anti-infectives like MetroGel or MetroLotion (metronidazole). Cortisone creams can make rosacea worse. Gentle face washing twice a day is recommended, but as far as we can tell, your cornstarch approach is unorthodox. We do not know if it would help anyone else or if you are an isolated case. The condition can wax and wane, but if this low-tech treatment works, count yourself fortunate.
I had facial acne and rosacea for at least four years. I blamed daily medications. A visit to the dermatologist did not help. Then one of your columns mentioned artificial sweeteners as a cause of diarrhea, so I stopped using them for that reason. When I quit drinking diet soda, my skin improved. Now, after six weeks, my skin problems are almost gone—for the first time in four years. I have diabetes and now drink only water or unsweetened drinks. Thank you.
Dermatologists recognize that individuals have different triggers. We’re glad to have helped you find yours. Doctors often prescribe oral antibiotics or topical antimicrobials. Some studies suggest that a topical B vitamin, nicotinamide (Nicomide), may also help control redness and bumps. Topical low-dose doxycycline (Oracea) is prescribed to maximize anti-inflammatory activity and to minimize antibiotic action.
My rosacea gives me a red nose and cheeks. Tetracycline helps but upsets my stomach. If I stop the antibiotic, the redness returns. My neighbor suggested two tablespoons daily of salsa. I started the salsa a month ago. Now my nose is not red or itchy as it usually is. It’s hard to believe something that tastes so good could be good medicine. Have you ever heard of this treatment?
Your experience with salsa is intriguing. Doctors usually tell rosacea patients to avoid food or drink that can dilate blood vessels, including hot beverages, alcohol, and spicy foods. We have heard of people using hot salsa for skin problems such as psoriasis and eczema, but this is the first time anyone has suggested it for rosacea. Capsaicin, the component in hot peppers that gives them a zing, has been tested topically for other skin conditions. Please let us know if it continues to work.
I read your article on acne disappearing when the writer gave up bananas. I too had this problem years ago. When I stopped eating bananas, my acne disappeared.
We don’t have a clue why some people might react to bananas by developing skin blemishes. While cutting out bananas might not work for others, it seems a simple experiment to try.
My 14-year-old daughter has had moderate acne for two years. Clearasil leaves bleach stains on her clothes. Antibiotics seem to make matters worse. The doctor suggested birth control pills, but it’s not an option we’d entertain. Are there any topical or natural remedies that might work? What about diet?
Any link between acne and diet is controversial. People once told teens to avoid chocolate and high-fat foods. That turned out to be unhelpful. However, research suggests that diet may make a difference.2 Populations that eat low-carbohydrate diets that don’t cause a rapid rise in blood sugar may be less prone to blemishes. Your daughter might try avoiding foods like candy, cookies, french fries, potato chips, sugar, and white flour to see if it helps her complexion. Ask your pharmacist about a topical treatment that contains a B vitamin. Nicomide-T Gel was equivalent to the topical antibiotic clindamycin in one controlled study.3 Oral nicotinamide may also be helpful.4
I have sensitive skin that reacts badly to everything. I have used Listerine for years to clear up small blemishes. Apply a dab to the area at night, and usually by morning the spot is clear. It doesn’t irritate the surrounding skin either. My husband has started using it for shaving bumps too.
The herbal extracts and alcohol in Listerine that are supposed to “kill germs by millions on contact” may be useful in helping your blemishes heal. We have heard from other readers who have used Listerine in this way.