Does sertraline help rosacea? (5 approved medications)

In this article, we will discuss whether sertraline can help with rosacea. We will also discuss what research indicates and what people have experienced. We will also talk about the commonly preferred treatment strategies for rosacea. 

Does sertraline help rosacea?

Sertraline may or may not help with rosacea. It is not an approved medication for the management of this condition and may not help it at all. Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor primarily used as an antidepressant (1,2) 

Sertraline works on serotonin, an excitatory neurotransmitter, in your brain, which is not usually related to rosacea or its symptoms. However, rosacea may trigger depression or anxiety in some people, which may make the condition worse or people may start to experience more pronounced symptoms. 

This can make sertraline useful, as it can manage such mental health-related symptoms that can control rosacea flare-ups. Anyone who is experiencing these flare-ups triggered by depression or anxiety can do well on antidepressants like sertraline. 

However, some people may feel their rosacea getting worse when such meds are taken. So, it’s best to reach out to your doctor and discuss the proper treatment plan for rosacea.

What does research suggest?

There is limited research on the effects of sertraline on rosacea, and no research study suggests that sertraline is a good option for this condition. 

However, research suggests that sertraline and related antidepressants can manage depression or anxiety associated with rosacea, which can help control flare-ups (3). 

Research studies also suggest that some SSRIs, like paroxetine, can help manage the redness of the skin associated with rosacea and can be used effectively (4). However, no research study indicates that antidepressants should be your go-to for this condition. 

It’s important to note that prescriptions are typically based on a physical examination of your pimples and the severity of the overall condition. The medication choice may also consider how rosacea is affecting your life or any additional symptoms that need to be taken care of.

What people have experienced so far?

Many people have taken sertraline while struggling with rosacea and have shared different experiences. 

A 40-year-old, Martha, shared her story:

“Is it only me or has anyone ever noticed the benefits of sertraline on rosacea? Ever since I started taking this antidepressant, I’ve felt my rosacea getting better. My skin does not look that red anymore, and I find an overall improvement in my symptoms.”

She continued:

“I know this is from sertraline because a few months ago, my doctor took me off of it since I was doing well mentally. But it’s interesting to note my rosacea acting up as I was tapering off sertraline. It got so bad that I started getting depressed and anxious. 

Eventually, I started taking sertraline again – and you guessed it, my rosacea started getting better. This thing totally works for me, and I’m glad it keeps my symptoms at bay.”

This review indicates how sertraline can be beneficial for some people and can actually help them with the symptoms. However, this might not be the case for everyone. 

A 36-year-old Carol shared her story:

“I started taking sertraline for my depression, closely linked to my rosacea and how it affected my confidence because I looked that way. I felt embarrassed, couldn’t put makeup on, and people stared at me.”

She continued:  

“It started taking a toll on my mental health for which I was prescribed sertraline, but that was a big mistake. Soon, my rosacea started getting worse, and my skin looked more red. Eventually, I stopped the medication.”

This indicates how sertraline can do more harm than good in some cases and should not be continued if it is severely affecting your condition.

How is rosacea managed in clinical settings?

There are some pharmacological and non-pharmacological ways of managing rosacea. These include: (5)

Pharmacological ways of managing rosacea

  • Metronidazole gel or cream (0.75% or 1%): Can be applied once or twice daily, it helps reduce inflammation. It’s usually well-tolerated, and improvement is often noticeable after several weeks.
  • Azelaic acid (15% or 20%): This topical agent is used twice daily. It works by decreasing inflammation and controlling the abnormal skin response seen in rosacea.
  • Doxycycline orally (40mg to 100mg once daily): Often prescribed for several weeks, it has anti-inflammatory properties. Lower doses are used compared to its use for bacterial infections.
  • Ivermectin cream (1%): Used once daily, this topical agent has anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory effects, reducing both lesions and redness.
  • Other topical antibiotics: Clindamycin or erythromycin Creams (1%): Applied directly to affected areas, these antibiotics help control inflammatory lesions.

Non-pharmacological ways of managing rosacea

  • Use a Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). Apply every morning to shield the skin from UV rays, which helps prevent the worsening of symptoms.
  • Use a mild cleanser. Apply twice daily to maintain skin hygiene without any irritation.
  • Identify personal triggers. Keep a diary to pinpoint specific triggers for rosacea and make sure you avoid them as much as possible.
  • Apply a hypoallergenic moisturiser as needed to prevent excessive dryness and soothe the skin.
  • Apply cool compresses or aloe vera gel as needed for relief from burning sensations.
  • Use green-tinted makeup or colour correctors in small amounts to conceal redness, ensuring products are suitable for sensitive skin.
  • Incorporate stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing into daily routines to manage stress levels.
  • Keep a food diary to record dietary intake and identify/avoid specific triggers.

As a pharmacist, I always suggest people with rosacea take these additional measures to make sure that their symptoms do not get worse. This is important while using appropriate medications to heal your skin quickly. As far as using sertraline is concerned, it is a prescription medication and it’s not for everyone.


  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from:
  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from:
  1. Dai R, Lin B, Zhang X, Lou Y, Xu S. Depression and Anxiety in Rosacea Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2021 Dec;11(6):2089-2105. doi: 10.1007/s13555-021-00613-w. Epub 2021 Oct 18. PMID: 34657997; PMCID: PMC8611151. 
  1. Wang B, Huang Y, Tang Y, Zhao Z, Shi W, Jian D, Liu F, Gao Q, Wang P, Yang J, Li L, Xie H, Li J. Paroxetine is an effective treatment for refractory erythema of rosacea: Primary results from the Prospective Rosacea Refractory Erythema Randomized Clinical Trial. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2023 Jun;88(6):1300-1307. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2023.01.044. Epub 2023 Feb 15. PMID: 36806645. 
  1. Farshchian M, Daveluy S. Rosacea. 2023 Aug 8. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 32491506. 

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