Rosacea is one of the most common skin care conditions I encounter with my clients in the studio. Although Rosacea is not curable, there are many ways you can manage to avoid flare ups.
In order to manage rosacea well, we first need to understand what rosacea is and how it can be triggered.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a common, but poorly understood skin condition that causes redness and sometimes small, red bumps on the face. Well over an estimated 16 million Americans alone are affected by rosacea - and most of them are unaware.
Although most people refer to rosacea as a single condition, there are actually 4 types of rosacea as well as a very rare fifth type. The four main types are:
Erythematotelangiectatic (ERT) Rosacea is the “blushing and flushing” kind of rosacea. It is characterized by persistent redness on the face. Small blood vessels beneath the skin become enlarged causing flare ups and then tend to disappear. Although it may seem like a “light” case of rosacea at first, it is important to be treated. Without treatment, the redness will become more persistent, cover more of the skin and may even become permanent.
Papulopustular rosacea is associated with whitehead-like pustules and/or red, swollen bumps. These bumps are often mischaracterized as “acne” and appear on the cheeks, forehead, and chin. However, blemishes can also appear on the scalp, or chest. Facial redness may also make an appearance. Severe forms of papulopustular rosacea can cause many blemishes at once that take a long time to heal.
Phymatous rosacea causes skin to thicken and scar. You may find that the skin gets bumpy, swollen, and sometimes discolored. This rare, but treatable type most often affects the nose. This results in what is referred to as a bulbous nose, or rhinophyma. Phymatous rosacea appears more frequently in men than in women.
Ocular rosacea involves the eyes and most often causes them to look watery and bloodshot. Eyes may also feel dry, itchy, burning, or gritty (like you have something in them). Cysts on the eyelids may form and crusting along the eyelash line may also be present.
There is also a very rare fifth type called granulomatous rosacea which leaves yellowish-brown or pink bumps and patchy redness around the cheeks, eyes, and mouth.
The types may progress from one to another and you can have more than one type at a time.
Although fair skinned women between 30-50 are often affected, anyone of any race or any age (including children) can be affected by rosacea.
Rosacea is often mistaken for acne or sensitive skin, which is a bummer because both of these misidentifications can cause problems for rosacea skin.
If rosacea is miscategorized as acne, you will often be given treatments that tend to be too harsh for rosacea skin types. This can cause inflammation and irritation of the skin creating unnecessary flare ups.
If rosacea is mistaken for sensitive skin, people often end up going through lots of the wrong products before finding out that their “sensitive skin” is actually a specific skin condition that needs to be treated purposefully.
Don’t ignore the early warning signs, like prolonged flushing. If you think you may have rosacea, get checked out by a professional who specializes in rosacea skin. Over time, rosacea can become more severe and the longer you wait to treat it, the more difficult it becomes to reduce the redness.
What triggers Rosacea?
First and foremost,rosacea is genetic. If you have the gene, you are likely to develop symptoms. If you don’t, you will not be affected by rosacea.
Other triggers include stress, spicy foods, alcohol (especially red wine), hot beverages, extreme temperatures and overexposure to the sun are all triggers that can cause a rosacea flare-up. Additionally, don’t overlook sneaky triggers, like hair dryers and hot showers. Basically, anything that will cause your face to flush can be a trigger.
You’ll notice I used the word “triggers” and not “causes”. This is because the exact causes of rosacea are unknown, and therefore the disorder remains incurable. However, you can keep it under control by avoiding triggers and using anti-inflammatory products that help soothe the skin.
How can I manage my rosacea for good?
The following is a list of skin care tips I have compiled for you that will help you to manage your rosacea.
- AVOID TRIGGERS - By simply avoiding triggers, you can potentially make your skin 50% better just by doing so! I know it can be hard, but it’s totally worth it. Something I share with my clients is to use journaling. Carefully doing so for a week or two can help identify which triggers you should avoid.
- USE SUNSCREEN - I can’t stress this enough! Wear sunscreen even when it seems it’s not “sunny”. It’s best to go with a natural sunscreen, containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, since chemical sunscreens have been known to cause irritation in rosacea patients. Also ensure the sunscreen is oil-free, non-comedogenic, fragrance free and broad spectrum (protecting from both UVA and UVB rays). Hale & Hush makes a great zinc oxide SPF 30.
- REDUCE INFLAMMATION- Opt for a gentle, hydrating cleanser with moisturizing ingredients like SkinScript’s Green Tea Citrus Cleanser or the Anteage Cleanser and wash properly - see the article here for some great tips on washing your face. Cleansers like the ones suggested will calm your skin while cleansing the skin thoroughly.
It’s also important to avoid face wash with harsh physical exfoliants (jojoba beads or crushed shells), chemical scrubs (like salicylic acid), most fragrance and alcohol-based toners. You’ll find conflicting information about glycolic, but I find with proper instruction, glycolic can be a more gentle exfoliating option. I’m also a huge fan of azelaic acid.
- INCREASE HYDRATION - I cannot emphasize moisturizing your skin enough. Moisturizers create a barrier that locks out irritants and can help keep rosacea symptoms at bay. I often tell my clients to moisturize at least 2-3 times a day as well as use additional hydrating products (like the Hale & Hush Soothe Essence Serum) and to make sure those products are oil and fragrance free. Hale & Hush overall is a GREAT line for this.
- ADDRESS THE HAIR PRODUCTS YOU USE - Hair products can have an affect on the skin. Sodium lauryl sulfate found in shampoos can be irritating to the skin. Use hair products that are free of irritants. I often recommend Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo and Conditioner as great choices for people suffering with rosacea. Also, don't forget that heat can be a trigger, so take care with hot tools.
- SKIP FACIALS - I know you’re like “you’re an esthetician…” MMMHMMM and one that won’t lie to you, which is why I’m telling you to skip the facials. Aggressive facial treatments and too much cleansing and exfoliating can do way more harm than good. Skip the facials and use the money to buy good anti-inflammatory skincare products.
- MIND YOUR MAKEUP - If you’re going to use face makeup, opt for one that is mineral base and fragrance free. Repechage or Jane Iredale are what I typically suggest to my clients. However, try not to wear makeup often and don’t use it to cover flare ups. It’s causing more harm than anything.
- CALM ROSACEA FLARES WHEN THEY HAPPEN - Even when you’ve done everything right, you can still end up having a flare up. To calm down inflammation during a rosacea flare, use ice packs. You can wrap them in a clean towel and apply them directly to the affected areas. Another favorite hack of mine is using cold green tea bags! Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties. Steep the green tea bags in ice water for 3-5 minutes and then apply them directly to the affected areas.
Green tea extracts can also be helpful. I love SkinScript’s Vitamin C/Green Tea Serum. Vitamin C helps to combat redness, strengthen capillaries and counteract inflammation too, so this product is extra effective for rosacea skin.
Overall, avoiding triggers, reducing inflammation, increasing hydration and avoiding products and services that can contribute to flare ups can help to keep your rosacea in check. Additionally, I encourage you to work with an esthetician who specializes in rosacea and can help guide you through this process and keep you on track.
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