Adapalene vs. metronidazole gel for the treatment of rosacea

Int J Dermatol. 2005 Mar;44(3):252-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2004.02130.x.


Background: Rosacea is a common, chronic dermatosis that requires long-term therapy. Oral isotretinoin and topical and/or oral antibiotics are effective, but their usage may be limited due to side-effects.

Objective: The goal of the study was to compare the efficacy of topical adapalene gel (0.1%) and topical metronidazole gel (0.75%) in the treatment of patients with papulopustular rosacea.

Methods: This study included 55 patients with papulopustular rosacea. Diagnostic efforts were focused on clinical and histological features. Patients were randomly assigned to the adapalene (n = 30) and metronidazole (n = 25) groups. Sunlight protection factor 20 cream was used to protect all patients from sunlight. The characteristics and numbers of inflammatory papules, pustules, erythema and telangiectasia were scored at baseline and after 2, 4, 8 and 12 weeks. Side-effects were recorded at each visit.

Results: Fifty patients, 27 in the adapalene group and 25 in the metronidzaole group, completed the study. Significant reductions in the total number of inflammatory lesions were found in the adapalene group compared with the metronidazole group. There was no significant difference in the scores of erythema and telangiectasia in the adapalene group. However, a significant reduction in erythema was seen in the metronidazole group.

Conclusions: Adapalene gel is well tolerated and can be used as an alternative for topical treatment of papulopustular rosacea.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adapalene
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Gels
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metronidazole / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Naphthalenes / therapeutic use*
  • Rosacea / drug therapy*
  • Single-Blind Method


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Gels
  • Naphthalenes
  • Metronidazole
  • Adapalene