Soolantra side effects and alternatives
In the US, the Ivermectin drug Soolantra costs around $432 for a supply of just 30 grams, and is only available on prescription in Ireland. While it can be very helpful in some cases, it doesn’t come without side effects and isn’t effective for everyone. In the last few years Ivermectin (also well known by its brand name Soolantra) has blown up and become a well known name in the rosacea community, for those with subtype 2 in particular.
In this guide we try to answer all your questions about the drug:
What is Ivermectin?
What are the potential side effects?
Why do we turn to Ivermectin?
What other options are there?
What is Soolantra / Ivermectin?
Ivermectin (brand name: Soolantra) is a once-daily, antibiotic-free topical prescription which is approved for the treatment of inflammatory lesions or bumps and pimples of type 2 rosacea. The active ingredient in Soolantra is 1% ivermectin in a mild base cream. Soolantra first got FDA approval in late 2014 and has been more than welcomed by those suffering with type 2 rosacea. Its effectiveness for the vast majority of type 2 sufferers is proven and well known – as is the price.
At the cost of over $400 for just a small tube that lasts only around a month... Is it worth the hype? The cost of Soolantra is unfortunately rarely covered by medical insurance. That can be super frustrating for rosacea sufferers who really need it to live a normal life.
Potential side effects of Soolantra
While proven very effective, Soolantra is not without some major side effects.
The most common of these include:
- Burning sensations on the skin ( in as many as 10% of patients)
- Skin irritation
- Eye itchiness
- Red eye
For pregnant women, it’s very important that you take extreme care when using Ivermectin. It should really only be used during pregnancy if its benefit to the mother justifies its potential risks to the foetus, which it rarely does. It’s not to say that it will cause harm but adequate and well-controlled studies with ivermectin cream have not yet been conducted in pregnant women. So it’s probably not worth the risk.
Once a woman has given birth it’s still advisable to avoid Soolantra while nursing. Because of the potential for adverse reactions from Ivermectin cream in nursing infants, it is strongly recommended for mothers not to use the drug throughout that period.
Why do we turn to Soolantra and Ivermectin?
One of the great things about Soolantra is that it is not an antibiotic. This removes the risk of patients building up an antibiotic resistance to the drug, unlike with an antibiotic topical cream or oral medication. Ivermectin has actually been used for years in veterinary medicine to kill off parasites in animals - this is where the inspiration came from for human use. It was ultimately the observation that people with type 2 rosacea have an overabundance of demodex mites that led to the first human trials.
Demodex mites are tiny microorganisms that live on the skin of all mammals naturally - we all host them. These mites come out at night to feed on the natural oil the skin produces (called sebum) and to mate with other skin mites. Their life cycles are only a couple of weeks and when they die this is thought to contribute to a buildup of bacteria on the skin’s surface. This can lead to significant skin irritation.
Those with type 2 rosacea are thought to have a much greater number of these mites than those with normal skin types. Given that those of us with type 2 have oilier skin than normal, this makes sense. If we’re able to reduce the number of mites, then the associated irritation, redness and pustules will also be less.This is the reason that Soolantra has been the go-to drug when dealing with type 2. Targeting the mites rather than going the antibiotic route is more preferable to many people, even though they are both pharmaceuticals made up of chemical ingredients.
Other options for treating rosacea
As mentioned above, Soolantra is effective most of the time in the treatment of subtype 2 rosacea. But it’s expensive, not without side effects and results aren’t 100% guaranteed. So if you’re dealing with type 2 rosacea it’s nice to know what your options are.
There are several routes which you can take when dealing with subtype 2 rosacea from both a topical, oral and cosmetic standpoint. Azeliac acid 15% gel (aka Finacea) is a relatively new treatment on the market. It has an anti-inflammatory effect as it reduces reactive oxygen species on the skin (molecules that play an important role in the progression of inflammatory disorders). Azeliac acid is a pharmaceutical route you can go if you have mild to moderate subtype 2. Over the course of 15 weeks you should notice a reduction in lesions, pimples and pustules but again there can be quite a few possible side effects.
Another topical option which comes in a gel or cream. Metronidazole is a synthetic antibacterial and antiprotozoal which has been used for many years in the treatment of the pimples and pustules associated with rosacea. Metronidazole can be an effective treatment that you only need to be using from time to time (for some). According to one study, only 23% of the group had a flare up within 6 months of using this medication. It’s good to know that this drug is considered palliative, meaning that when you stop using it, symptoms will likely reoccur at some point.
Possible side effects of this can include itching, stinging, irritation or dryness along with others.
Natural Cosmetic Remedies
Plant based skincare is on the rise in recent years. Herbal preparations have been used by our ancestors for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Keeping your diet and skincare in order is a good way to try to reduce the constant need for antibiotics, then when they are really necessary taking them.
If you’re into plant-based, natural skincare you should take a look at the ingredients list in our Calming Serum 2. If you’ve already got an interest in plant oils and natural remedies you’ll recognise why the ingredients list we’ve put together is so important. Our Calming Serum 2 has been developed specifically to soothe the symptoms of subtype 2. This localised, lightweight serum aims to relieve facial redness, swelling, excess oil, and bumps and contains both Tea Tree oil and Oregano oil (known for reducing the number of demodex mites). Sulphur is known for controlling sebum production, and since sebum is the only source of food for demodex mites, it made a lot of sense to add sulphur to our serum and starve them out.
Please remember that our Finca Skin Organics products are not medical treatments but skincare products designed to reduce the appearance of redness, protect, soothe and cleanse without further irritation. Finca Skin Organics is a cosmetic product and is retailed as such. We are not medical professionals but fellow rosacea sufferers. We always advise first seeking your doctor’s advice for proper diagnosis and prescribed medication if applicable.
All Finca Skin Organics products are made using a minimal, plant-based ingredients list and formulated by me, a rosacea sufferer.
The Finca Skin Organics range has undergone a Harley Street clinical study. After using our products, 87% felt the appearance of their skin significantly improved.
When in doubt, always refer to your doctor or dermatologist as the condition differs for everyone. It’s always best to talk to your dermatologist first and work out your treatment plan together.
If you have any queries regarding your rosacea or how to use our products get in contact with us, we'd love to hear from you.
With love from Ireland,
*Clinical evaluation by Harley St. dermatologists on 23 subjects after 8 weeks of use.