Topical Oxymetazoline: A Novel Approach to Treat Rosacea

What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic skin complaint affecting the face. It is characterised by small dilated blood vessels and often includes small pustules and papules. Whilst the precise cause of rosacea is unknown, any activity causing facial flushing, such as temperature fluctuations, blushing, stress, sunburn, exercise, consuming caffeine and spicy food can contribute to its severity. In fact, the symptom of flushing is enough to potentially diagnose rosacea, and those who describe themselves as having ‘sensitive’ skin may be suffering mild rosacea. Traditional pharmaceutical approaches to rosacea include antibiotics, immune-suppressants and retinoids. However, another agent with apparently fewer potential side effects is gaining attention.


Oxymetazoline is a vasoconstrictor which is commonly used in nasal sprays as a nasal decongestant. It works by causing the smooth muscle around blood vessels to contract, making the vessels smaller and less dilated. Thus it would appear to be a good candidate for treating rosacea.

Indeed, the Rosacea International Expert Group has noted that topical oxymetazoline has a role in the treatment of rosacea and the group recommends its use.
Studies have found that after applying oxymetazoline to the skin once a day, a decrease in redness was noted in 1 hour and the effect was sustained throughout the day. Continued application once a day over several months was associated with a marked improvement of rosacea symptoms. These results were sustained after prolonged use at 17 months.

Once a day treatment with an oxymetazoline cream markedly improves rosacea symptoms, long term.

When compared to some other agents currently used, oxymetazoline presents fewer issues with potential side effects and its application results in a rapid improvement of symptoms.

Please feel free to contact our pharmacists at Border Compounding Pharmacy to discuss your skin concerns.