According to the National Rosacea Society, at least 16 million people in the United States suffer from rosacea. This skin disease, although most often identified with a swollen and reddened nose, can affect any part of the face and even the eyes. Treatments address the different possible causes of rosacea and include topical antibacterial medications, such as sodium sulfacetamide.
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What Is Rosacea?
Rosacea occurs most often in women between the ages of 30 and 60 years old for unknown reasons. Many factors appear to cause the reddened skin that worsens as rosacea flares continue without treatment. Skin swelling, dilated blood vessels, photoaging from sun exposure and the presence of bacteria on the skin are all possible causes. Flare triggers are specific to individuals but often fall into common environmental and dietary groups: extreme temperatures, spicy and hot foods, acidic foods, caffeine and alcoholic drinks.
How Sodium Sulfacetamide Works
Sodium sulfacetamide is a prescription medication available in numerous formulations for the skin, including topical foams, soaps, lotions and eye drops. Sodium sulfacetamide is a type of antibiotic that kills bacteria that live on the skin. The many forms of this drug are used to control acne. Acne has been linked with rosacea occurrence; although the two diseases are not actually connected, they can coexist. Severe, untreated rosacea may develop pustules and nodules under the skin that can be treated with sodium sulfacetamide.
Sodium Sulfacetamide Combination Products
In addition to being treated with sodium sulfacetamide alone, people with rosacea may receive prescriptions for the drug in combination with sulfur. These combination products for rosacea should be applied to the skin but not into the eye. Sulfur is a keratolytic drug, which breaks down thick or scaly skin. Alone or in combination with sulfur, sodium sulfacetamide may be prescribed with separate treatments, such as witch hazel, to decrease swelling in the blood vessels as well.
Sodium Sulfacetamide Cautions
As with any prescription drug, sodium sulfacetamide may cause side effects, particularly if used incorrectly. Sodium sulfacetamide alone or with sulfur may irritate the skin and even cause initial redness, particularly in people with eczema as well. People who are allergic to sulfonamide oral antibiotics or other sulfa drugs can experience a severe allergic reaction if they use sodium sulfacetamide. Symptoms of an allergy range from an itchy rash to life-threatening trouble breathing. Any prescription or over-the-counter treatment for rosacea should be discussed with a health professional before use.