New treatment appears effective for rosacea

November 17, 2003

CHICAGO - Application of a new formulation of azelaic acid gel to the face reduces the redness and lesions associated with rosacea better than a commonly used treatment (metronidazole gel), according to an article in the November issue of The Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition characterized by red, flaky patches on the nose and cheeks and sometimes accompanied by lesions that appear similar to small pimples. According to the article, rosacea usually fist appears in people between the ages of 30 and 60 years. Rosacea seems to respond well to topical antimicrobial treatments (creams or gels that kill microorganisms like bacteria), although the mechanisms behind this are not well understood, especially because no microorganisms have been identified as causes of rosacea. Azelaic acid and metronidazole are two antimicrobial preparations used to treat acne, and have also been observed to reduce skin conditions associated with rosacea. A new product containing 15 percent azelaic acid has been formulated specifically to treat rosacea.

Boni E. Elewski, M.D., of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind study to compare the new 15 percent azelaic acid gel (Finacea; Berlex Laboratories, Inc., Montville, N.J.) with 0.75 percent metronidazole gel (MetroGel; Galderma Laboratories LP, Fort Worth, Tex.) in treating patients with rosacea. The researchers randomly assigned 251 patients (aged 18 years or older) to use either azelaic acid gel (n=124) or metronidazole gel (n=127). The patients applied the gels to the affected areas twice a day for 15 weeks. Participants enrolled in the study between October 29, 2001 and January 31, 2002.

The researchers found that the azelaic acid gel was better than metronidazole gel at reducing the number of lesions associated with rosacea. Fifty-six percent of patients in the azelaic acid gel group experienced a reduction in redness vs. 42 percent of the metronidazole gel group. The researchers also found that the effectiveness of the metronidazole gel seemed to plateau after 8 weeks, while patients in the azelaic acid gel group showed continuous improvement over 15 weeks.

The researchers conclude: "Results showed that azelaic acid gel was consistently superior to metronidazole gel in improving principal signs of rosacea (for example, reducing inflammatory papules and pustules and reducing erythema [redness] intensity). In addition, azelaic acid gel was superior to metronidazole gel in improving or resolving rosacea signs as measured by two distinct investigators' assessments."

"... these results suggest a beneficial effect of azelaic acid during prolonged treatment periods, warranting further investigation of long-term treatment of rosacea with azelaic acid gel," the authors write.
(Arch Dermatol. 2003;139:1444-1450. Available post-embargo at

For more information, contact JAMA/Archives Media Relations at 312-464-JAMA (5262) or e-mail .

The JAMA Network Journals

Related Rosacea Articles from Brightsurf:

Study examines skin diseases in older adults
In a study of 552 adults aged 70 to 93 years old, 80% of participants had at least one skin disease that required treatment, and the most common conditions were fungal skin infections, rosacea, actinic keratosis, and eczema.

Images offer most detailed glimpse yet into how skin senses temperature
Columbia University researchers have captured new images of a temperature-sensing molecule in its open, intermediate, and closed states.

Teenage acne may be a natural, transient inflammatory state
Adolescent acne does not always result in a pathological condition; rather, it may be a natural, transient inflammatory state occurring when the maturing facial skin is exposed to new microbes and enhanced production of an oily substance called sebum.

People with benign skin condition willing to trade time, money to cure disorder
People with benign hyperpigmentation (the darkening or increase in the natural color of the skin), are willing to pay (WTP) nearly 14 percent of their monthly income and approximately 90 minutes a day to cure their condition.

Massachusetts General study finds women pay more for over-the-counter moisturizers
A study from dermatologists at Massachusetts General Hospital finds significant, gender-based price discrepancies in facial moisturizing products at three top online retailers - Amazon, Target, and Walmart.

Ginkgo seed extracts show antibacterial activity on skin pathogens
Extracts from the seeds of the Ginkgo biloba tree show antibacterial activity on pathogens that can cause skin infections such as acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema.

Skin diseases are more common than we think
Skin diseases are ranked as the fourth most common cause of human illness, but many affected people do not consult a physician.

Trends over time in antibiotic prescribing by dermatologists
This study looked at trends over time in oral antibiotic prescribing by dermatologists using commercial insurance claims data for almost 986,000 courses of oral antibiotics prescribed by nearly 12,000 dermatologists.

More caffeine from coffee associated with decreased rosacea risk
Consuming caffeine from coffee but not from other foods (tea, soda and chocolate) was associated with less risk of rosacea, a common chronic inflammatory skin disease where the skin appears red and flushed.

Mutations in this molecule may have helped mammoths tolerate the cold
Columbia University biomedical researchers have captured close-up views of TRPV3, a skin-cell ion channel that plays important roles in sensing temperature, itch, and pain.

Read More: Rosacea News and Rosacea Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to