A Guide to the Ingredients and Potential Benefits of Over-the-Counter Cleansers and Moisturizers for Rosacea Patients

J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011 Aug;4(8):31-49.


It is difficult for rosacea patients to discern which products and ingredients will be beneficial to their skin and which products will lead to an exacerbation of the signs and symptoms of rosacea. In this paper, the authors provide a brief overview of rosacea, its pathogenesis, signs and symptoms, and the management of the two major rosacea subtypes-erythematotelangiectatic rosacea and papular pustular rosacea. Reviewed in greater detail are the common ingredients used in over-the-counter cleansers and moisturizers with discussion of how these ingredients potentially benefit or harm the skin of patients with rosacea. Clinical studies investigating the benefits of using certain over-the-counter cleansers and moisturizers in patients with erythematotelangiectatic rosacea and papular pustular rosacea with or without topical prescription therapy are also reviewed. The specific formulas used in the clinical studies include a sensitive skin synthetic detergent bar, a nonalkaline cleanser and moisturizer, polyhydroxy acid containing cleanser and moisturizer, and a ceramide-based cleanser and moisturizer formulated in a multivesicular emulsion. Based on review of available data, the authors conclude that the use of mild over-the-counter cleansers and moisturizers is beneficial for patients with erythematotelangiectatic rosacea and papular pustular rosacea. The properties of over-the-counter cleansers and moisturizers that contribute to their mildness include an acidic-neutral pH to minimize the flux in skin pH; surfactants or emulsifiers that will not strip the skin of its moisture or strip the lipids and proteins of the stratum corneum; moisturizing ingredients such as emollients, humectants, and occlusives; and formulas without potential irritants and allergens. The most consistent clinical benefits demonstrated in the reviewed studies were a subjectively perceived improvement in subjective symptoms of dryness and irritation as well as an objective improvement in dryness.