Rosacea, a common skin condition characterized by red flushing of the cheeks, chin, nose or forehead, was initially thought to be an infectious disorder. We now know that it’s not an infectious condition at all, but a chronic inflammatory disorder. Recent research has shown that a part of the skin’s immune system seems to be hyperactive in rosacea. This new understanding could have huge implications for the effectiveness of new treatments for the condition, which are now shifting away from a focus on high-dose antibiotics.
Shifting from High- to Low-Dose Antibiotics
Once researchers discovered that antibiotics were only effective at treating rosacea because of their anti-inflammatory agents, they began searching for alternative treatment options that would reduce the buildup of antibiotic resistance. They found that doxycycline, which has both anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties, could be administered in a lower dosage, using it only for its anti-inflammatory purpose and not as an antibiotic.
Could a Parasitic Mite Also Play a Role?
Although it’s not a new theory that Demodex, a parasitic mite normally found in hair follicles, could be partially to blame for rosacea flares, the evidence from this new research seems to further validate this claim. While Demodex is most likely not the sole culprit, it does cause inflammation (the immune system may be reacting abnormally to the demodex), and could very well contribute to flare-ups. Thus, using topical ivermectin, the drug used to treat a Demodex infestation, could also be used to treat rosacea.
A Systematic Disease
New research also suggests that rosacea may actually be a systematic disease that could affect more than the skin. Similar to those with psoriasis, people with rosacea may be at a greater risk for developing vascular diseases. But there is also evidence that low-dose doxycycline may be able to reduce the risk of coronary artery disease, making this rosacea treatment especially beneficial.