The anti-wrinkle jab Botox may help treat rosacea, the chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects one in ten people at some point. Rosacea causes facial redness mainly in the forehead, cheeks, chin and nose.
Two recent research papers found that injections of botulinum toxin were successful in treating the condition.
The researchers believe the toxin may stop blood vessels dilating, and thus reduce the characteristic red, flushed skin, as well as tackling inflammation.
Rosacea occurs when tiny blood vessels in the skin of the face dilate and become visible — known as telangiectasia; in severe cases, skin can thicken and swell, usually around the nose.
The cause is not fully understood. Treatments that can help minimise the symptoms include antibiotic tablets or gels and creams that have anti-inflammatory effects. But these do not work for all patients.
Two new studies show that botulinum toxin, which is widely used in cosmetic procedures and to treat an increasing number of medical conditions, including chronic migraines, can be effective in rosacea, too.
When used in the treatment of migraine, botulinum toxin works by blocking signals in the nerves that supply muscles.
One theory is that with rosacea it targets compounds in the skin, which in turn stops blood vessels dilating. It may also block immune cells that are involved in the inflammatory response that worsens the condition.
In one of the studies, dermatologists at Hindu Rao Hospital in India injected small amounts of diluted botulinum toxin into the rosacea-affected areas of 30 patients.
Given 5mm apart and just under the skin’s surface, the injections were carried out under local anaesthetic and results showed there was a significant reduction in redness in less than two weeks, and improvements lasted up to four months.
In the second study, researchers at the University of California in the U.S. found that botulinum toxin blocks immune cells called mast cells and prevents inflammation.
Dr Bav Shergill, a consultant dermatologist at Brighton General Hospital and Queen Victoria Hospital, said: ‘As a rosacea sufferer myself, I am always interested in new treatment approaches.
‘The effect of botulinum toxin has been noted in anecdotal reports by other doctors before, but it is good to hear of a larger study demonstrating its efficacy.
‘Patients may be reluctant to have multiple injections but if the effects are long-lasting, they may find it more convenient than other treatments.’
© Daily Mail