(Updated March 30, 2020)
For Rosacea Awareness Month, April 2020, we asked our dermatologists for their top lifestyle tips to limit rosacea flare-ups.
Rosacea flares can cause prolonged flushing, facial redness, a feeling of burning and stinging in the skin and more. These visible skin changes can be embarrassing and disheartening. Here’s what can help:
Practice Safe Sun! UV exposure can exacerbate rosacea in the short term and drive the progression of the disease in the long term. Safe Sun means limiting direct sun exposure by choosing the times that you are outdoors, wearing a hat and protective gear, and using a high SPF broad spectrum sunscreen daily. Many of my rosacea patients find mineral based sunscreens are very well tolerated.
Commit to a basic skincare regimen including a gentle soap-free cleaner, and a fragrance- free moisturizer to restore barrier function. This can improve the texture of skin and also reduce sensation of stinging or burning that often accompany rosacea due to barrier dysfunction.
Avoid overheating! Many environmental and lifestyle triggers associated with flares of rosacea involve feeling hot. For example, this might happen with alcohol, spicy foods, hot (in temperature) beverages and foods, extremes of temperature (hot or cold), wind, or sun exposure. Try to stop the progression. Drink a cold (non-alcoholic!) beverage, move to a cool place, or remove extra layers of clothing. If you can, limit future exposure to those triggers that make you feel hot.
If this happens with exercise, develop strategies to minimize overheating during exercise. This may include wearing loose light clothing, exercising in a cooler environment, and sipping on ice cold water during exercise.
If particular foods trigger your rosacea, avoidance is usually the most effective strategy.
Once you have a facial routine that works for you, try to minimize changes in cosmetics, foundations and sunblocks.
If you have been prescribed medication for rosacea, use it as directed as these can help to reduce flare frequency and severity.
Discover your own rosacea triggers. They can range from general ones like sunlight, intense exercise, stress, spicy foods and alcohol to more specific ones like certain activities or foods. Lifestyle modifications can help address many of these triggers such as sun protection, less intensive workouts, stress management and dietary modifications.
There are a number of well-known triggers to rosacea. The simplest way to limit flares from a trigger is to avoid or reduce the exposure as much as possible. When this is not possible, there are a few tips that may help.
Wine may be the fruit of life, but in certain individuals it can trigger rosacea. If red wine is the culprit, try switching to white wine as this may not spark a flare.
If exercise triggers a flare, try to apply cold water to the face immediately after the activity. This will help to reduce redness and may help to prevent a flare.
Sunlight can also exacerbate rosacea. Use a broad-spectrum high SPF sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). Remember that the skin in rosacea may be sensitive to products applied and therefore you should sample a sunscreen before you buy it whenever possible.
Pay attention to your skin and use a skin diary to determine which triggers flare your rosacea. Minimizing stress and triggers such as spicy foods can be helpful.
No picking or squeezing of pimples is key.
I think gentle skin care is important – this includes a mild cleanser (not soap) and moisturizing in the evenings, and a sunscreen in the mornings.
Having a dermatologist is worthwhile as there are many great treatments now available.
Being part of an educational support group like ARSC is also important to find out what’s new with your condition for prevention and treatment.
If your coffee is giving you a flare, new studies show it is not the caffeine but likely the hot temperature of the beverage that is contributing so consider drinking it on ice instead.
For those sensitive to hot temperatures consider having a warm shower instead of a hot shower and skipping the hot tub, steam room and sauna.
Emotional stimuli can cause rosacea flares. In real life we know these triggers are not truly avoidable but learning to minimize stress and anxiety and responding to these emotional triggers in the healthiest way possible can improve your overall well-being and your rosacea.
Avoiding sun on the face is important to minimize rosacea flares. Daily sunscreen in essential. Rosacea patients often appreciate physical (rather than chemical) sunscreens as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are typically well tolerated. One with a tint can help camouflage redness. A hat to shade the face is also helpful.
Less is more, just keep it simple; a sunscreen, moisturizer and rosacea medication is all that is required. Avoid any supplemental creams, exfoliants, tonics, lotions that may increase your risk for reactions.
When choosing a sunscreen, go for one that is for sensitive skin, like a physical or mineral based one.
Be gentle with your skin; avoid scented soaps and washing or scrubbing with hot water.
Manage stress; exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, consider yoga or acupuncture.
For more information about Rosacea Triggers, please visit https://www.rosaceahelp.ca/triggers/