LAHAINA, HAWAII – The pathophysiology of rosacea is complicated, which is why “we try to target our treatments to various areas in this pathogenic pathway” to achieve optimal results, according to Linda Stein Gold, MD, director of dermatology research at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

Dr. Linda Stein Gold

For example, in a patient with papules and pustules, a topical or oral anti-inflammatory agent is needed “to calm that down.” If background erythema is present, separate from papules and pustules, use a topical alpha-adrenergic agonist, she advised. For telangiectasias, consider a device-based treatment, and for a phyma, a surgical approach, she recommended at the Hawaii Dermatology Seminar provided by Global Academy for Medical Education/Skin Disease Education Foundation.

For the background erythema of rosacea, which she described as “that pink face that’s always there,” the two alpha-adrenergic receptor agonists available, brimonidine gel 0.33%, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2013, and oxymetazoline cream 1%, approved in 2017, both work on the neurovascular junction, but on different receptors.

Brimonidine “kicks in very, very rapidly,” with a significant decrease in background erythema evident within 30 minutes and improvements that last over a 12-hour day, she said. It is effective over a year, but in longterm and postmarketing studies, about 20% of patients experienced exacerbation of erythema, with two peaks of redness. “One occurs at 3-6 hours,” and the other peak occurs when the drug is wearing off later in the day, Dr. Stein Gold said.

A study that sought to identify factors that might make patients more prone to this adverse effect found that “less is better” regarding brimonidine application, with an optimal application of one to three pea-sized dollops on the face, not five as instructed in the package insert. In addition, patients with more than five flushing episodes a week, particularly women, “tend to have more labile disease and [are] more likely to get that rebound erythema,” the study found.

Oxymetazoline 1% in a cream formulation has a “slightly more gentle onset of action and a more gentle offset of action,” without exacerbation of erythema and has been shown to have sustained efficacy over 52 weeks. In a yearlong safety study, there were “no new red flags and we weren’t seeing that redness at hours 3 to 6, or even when you take the patient off the drug,” she noted.

Dr. Stein Gold reported that she has served as a consultant, investigator, or speaker for Galderma, Dermira, Foamix Pharmaceuticals, Valeant, Allergan, Actavis, and Roche.

SDEF/Global Academy for Medical Education and this news organization are owned by the same parent company.