Rosacea Review - Newsletter of the National Rosacea SocietyRosacea Review - Newsletter of the National Rosacea Society

Prescription and OTC Products Can Work Together to Repair Skin Barrier Damage

Over-the-counter (OTC) skin care products have an important role to play in the healing cycle of rosacea by helping to repair the skin barrier, which is often damaged in skin affected by the disorder.

To assist dermatologists in educating their patients, a group of rosacea experts recently published an article in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology with a recommended list of foundational measures that rosacea patients should take to repair their skin barrier function so that prescription treatments have the best chance of working. The authors provided an algorithm for integrating skin care products into their treatment regimen.1 In an accompanying article, they noted that “skin care and OTC products are grossly underappreciated and overlooked cornerstones in patient education that may complement prescription therapy.”2

According to the group’s recommended guidelines, patients should have a skin care routine that includes a gentle cleanser, a moisturizer containing barrier protection and a sunscreen.

Cleansers should be non-greasy and free of synthetic detergents or lipids, with a pH close to normal body levels (pH 4-6), and should be applied in a gentle motion with the fingertips. Avoid hot or cold water, foaming cleansers, cleansing brushes, abrasive scrubs and any soap or cleansers with an alkaline pH (>7).

Moisturizers should be fragrance- and sensitizing agent-free, preferably containing anti-inflammatory com-pounds such as ceramides.

The authors recommended a ceramide-containing sunscreen with at least a 30 SPF in addition to general sun avoidance. Rosacea patients with highly sensitive skin may find sunblock containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide less irritating.

Your healthcare provider can help you choose the right formulation based on skin condition, availability, cost and individual preferences. Addressing skin barrier repair early in treatment, and continuing care through ongoing maintenance, is key to rosacea management.


1. Baldwin H, Alexis A, Andriessen A, et al. Skin barrier deficiency in rosacea: an algorithm integrating OTC skincare products into treatment regimens. J Drugs Dermatol 2022 Sep 1;21(9):SF3595563-SF35955610. doi: 10.36849/JDD.m0922.

2. Marson J, Bhatia N, Graber E, et al. The role of epidermal barrier dysfunction and cutaneous microbiome dysbiosis in the pathogenesis and management of acne vulgaris and rosacea. J Drugs Dermatol 2022 Sep 1;21(9):SF3502915-SF35029114. doi: 10.36849/JDD.m0922.