Q. Which are the best natural remedies for treating rosacea?

A. Rosacea is an ongoing skin problem that causes redness, swelling, and acnelike bumps on the forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin. It is most common in fair-skinned, middle-age people. Although there is no cure for rosacea, it can be minimized by avoiding certain lifestyle and environmental conditions that encourage flare-ups. Triggers vary by individual, but the most common ones include: sun exposure, stress, alcohol, hot or cold weather, wind, spicy foods, heavy exercise, hot baths, hot drinks, and certain skin care products, especially those containing alcohol, menthol, or fragrances. By keeping a record of your flare-ups and remissions, you should be able to identify which of these may be causing problems.

The skin-soothing herb burdock, available as a tincture (take 2 to 4 ml per day) or in capsules (take 1 to 2 grams, three times daily), can be beneficial for rosacea. Older research suggests that some people with rosacea aren't producing enough stomach acid and will experience fewer symptoms if they take digestive aids. You'll find pancreatic enzymes (which aid digestion) at natural products stores; try taking two capsules on an empty stomach for a couple weeks to see if your skin improves. Another digestive aid, hydrochloric acid, can be taken during a skin flare-up; try 10 grains (600 mg) with each meal. Reduce the dose or discontinue if your skin clears or if your stomach becomes upset. Although there is no recent evidence of a benefit from either of these digestive aids, they may be worth trying if other treatments have not provided relief.

This Q&A was written by Victoria Dolby Toews, MPH, author of the The Soy Sensation (McGraw-Hill, 2002) and The Green Tea Book (Avery, 1998).