Finacea Side Effects - What You Need To Know Before Using Rosacea Treatment

Donald Grant
Dr Donald GrantMB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.medGP & Clinical Advisor

Finacea is a prescription-only gel that is used to treat skin conditions such as rosacea and acne and usually has minimal side effects.

Although the risk of side effects when using Finacea are low, it’s a good idea to read up on them still so you are prepared if you do encounter any during your treatment.

On this page, we’ll be talking about what actually happens to your body when you use Finacea, what the common side effects of Finacea are, how to relieve side effects, and when to stop treatment or seek further medical help.

What happens when you use Finacea

The active ingredient in this Finacea gel is azelaic acid. When Finacea gel is rubbed into the affected area, the azelaic acid kills off the bacteria on the skin that is responsible for making acne worse.

It also reduces the body’s natural production and growth of keratin surface skin cells, preventing these cells from blocking pores and causing the spots, rashes, swelling and redness associated with rosacea and acne.

Over time, regular application of Finacea will work to smoothen skin, reduce the appearance of spots and redness, lighten patches of pigmentation, and even reduce light acne scarring.

To find out more about Finacea gel and how it works, visit our ‘What is Finacea?’ page.

Common Finacea side effects

Not everyone that uses Finacea gel will encounter side effects — some users may find that the treatment immediately improves their condition without any ill effects at all.

However, there are some side effects that you may come across should you decide to use Finacea to treat rosacea or acne.

Here are some of the common side effects that can be experienced by Finacea users:

  • Application site reactions such as burning, itching, tingling, numbness and other irritations
  • Dry skin and scaling
  • Rash or contact dermatitis
  • Abnormal redness
  • Acne or increase in acne
  • Warmth
  • Pain
  • Skin discolouration
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Worsening of asthma

Because Finacea contains azelaic acid, the most common side effects of using Finacea gel are reactions on your skin where you apply the gel.

You may feel an itching, burning or stinging sensation or some pain upon application and as skin starts to absorb the gel. Over one in 10 people tend to experience these side effects. However, these should subside shortly.

Other skin irritations can also occur, more commonly as dry skin, tingling or numbness or a rash. Less than one in 10 people experience these side effects.

More unusual side effects (less than one in 100 chance) include abnormal redness, acne, uncomfortable warmth, skin discolouration, scaling (abnormal shedding of skin) or contact dermatitis (inflammation of the skin due to contact with a particular substance).

Very rare side effects (affecting less than 1 in 1000 people) may occasionally occur. These are much less likely, however, it’s worth knowing about them. These include hypersensitivity and worsening of asthma.

The likelihood of experiencing any of the above side effects can vary from person to person; each case is individual, and what one user may encounter could be completely different from another.

If you are concerned about your reaction to Finacea or are experiencing any severe, long-lasting or painful side effects, you should consult your doctor for further guidance.

There is nothing currently to indicate that Finacea has any negative long-term side effects. In fact, in most cases, Finacea is a highly effective acne and rosacea treatment that will ensure positive long-lasting effects.

How to relieve Finacea side effects

If you are suffering from any uncomfortable application site reactions to using Finacea gel, you can try the following to relieve side effects:

  • Avoid using any harsh, heavily perfumed or abrasive soaps and cleansers while undergoing a Finacea course of treatment (this includes any alcoholic cleansers, astringents, tinctures, abrasive exfoliating creams and definitely no peeling agents).
  • Before applying Finacea gel, wash the affected area with water and a mild cleanser (preferably one for sensitive skin).
  • Use Finacea sparingly — only approximately 0.5 g of gel is needed for the whole facial area. Don't apply more than necessary, as this could cause your body to absorb too much of the gel, leading to uncomfortable side effects.
  • If you are suffering from dry skin or itchiness after using Finacea, you can use a mild moisturiser to rehydrate your skin after use. Wait at least five minutes after application to ensure that the gel has been absorbed by your skin.

These steps may help to alleviate any discomfort or irritation caused by Finacea. If side effects persevere, or your condition does not improve or worsens, then tell your doctor.

Are there any alternatives that have less chance of side effects?

Put simply, Finacea is a good option for treating rosacea or acne that works well and has long-lasting results.

Despite mentioning the possible side effects that may occur if you use the gel, it is worth noting that these are unusual, and you may not even suffer from any side effects at all. Even the most common side effects of Finacea have around a 1 in 10 chance of affecting the user, and more serious side effects are much, much rarer.

To find out how real users have found Finacea, have a look at Trustpilot customer reviews over on our Finacea reviews page.

However, if you aren’t getting on with Finacea, there are some alternative rosacea and acne treatments that you can try.

Skinoren cream contains the same active ingredient, azelaic acid, as Finacea. However, at 20%, Skinoren is stronger compared to Finacea 15% gel, so may not help with any side effects you are experiencing.

Alternatively, you can try Rozex rosacea gel — another prescription-only topical treatment. Instead of azelaic acid, Rozex gel contains the antibiotic metronidazole. This powerful antibiotic kills the skin bacteria that leads to rosacea and is used in a similar way. Read our detailed guide: What is Rozex? For more information on this treatment.

Like any medication, Rozex can cause side effects too. Common side effects of using Rozex are similar to the possible side effects of Finacea: dry skin, redness, itching, burning and other skin irritations.

Another option is Mirvaso gel, which uses the active ingredient brimonidine tartrate to treat rosacea, by decreasing the flow of blood through the vessels (therefore reducing redness). Although Mirvaso reduces rosacea symptoms such as redness and flushing, it doesn’t tackle the infections and blockages that often cause rosacea.

Soolantra is the newest topical treatment for acne rosacea. Click the link to buy Soolantra Cream or, to find out more about Soolantra side effects, click through.

Finacea is one of the most effective treatments as it combats both infection and appearance of rosacea (and acne).

Are there any circumstances when you shouldn’t use Finacea?

There are a few circumstances in which you shouldn’t use Finacea gel to treat your rosacea or acne:

  • If you are under 12 years of age
  • If you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant — there is currently no evidence that Finacea can cause harm to an unborn baby, but it is best to seek advice from your doctor if you are planning on using the gel while pregnant
  • If you are breastfeeding — Finacea is extremely unlikely to pose a risk, however, a small amount (less than 4%) of the gel is absorbed by the body so may pass into breast milk. Avoid any contact between treated skin and infants, and inform your doctor if you intend to follow this course of treatment while breastfeeding
  • If you think you may be allergic to any of the ingredients in Finacea gel — to see a full list of ingredients, go to our Finacea gel page.
  • If you have skin that is broken, chapped or sunburned — Finacea gel may irritate any of these conditions and cause discomfort.

If in doubt, speak to your doctor or start a free consultation with The Independent Pharmacy today.

When to seek further medical help

If you are suffering from very painful, severe, or persistent side effects, you should stop using the treatment immediately and tell your doctor. This includes severe burning, itching, stinging, redness or peeling.

Likewise, if you notice any dramatic changes in your skin colour or signs of an allergic reaction (such as a rash, swelling or chest tightness), you should tell your doctor right away.

You should also seek guidance from your GP if your rosacea or acne does not improve or worsens after eight weeks.


If you are a rosacea or acne sufferer looking to treat your condition effectively, then Finacea is a great option. This topical treatment works to alleviate the symptoms such as redness, swelling and spots by tackling infection and skin blockages. Although some side effects may occur, they are rare and often not serious. If you have any severe or persistent side effects with any medication, you should always contact your doctor for advice.


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