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Red in the face? Outsmart rosacea triggers


We all want to put our best face forward. So imagine what it’s like when your skin is so sensitive that it flushes, stings and breaks out in reaction to everyday things, like sun, wind and heat.

That’s what happens with rosacea, a common skin condition that can cause redness, pimples and a burning sensation—usually in the face. Rosacea has no cure, but it can be treated. And if you have it, you have a big role to play.

Because rosacea symptoms often come and go, figuring out what causes your flare-ups is a key part of treating them. Learning your triggers can help you take steps to protect your skin—and keep your rosacea from getting worse over time.

7 rosacea triggers to watch out for

Rosacea triggers differ from person to person. To pinpoint yours, you may want to keep track of your symptoms for at least a few weeks. Write down what foods you eat, beverages you drink and things you’re exposed to that might make your rosacea worse.

Then talk with your doctor about what you learn. Together you can come up with a treatment plan to help keep your rosacea under control.

Here are seven common triggers to watch out for—and some simple changes that might help you avoid them if they’re a problem for you:

  1. Sunlight. This is such a common trigger that anyone with rosacea should follow these basic sun-safety steps:
  • Before you go outside each day, slather on a gentle, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. A fragrance-free sunscreen with ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is best.
  • Try to stay in the shade and out of the midday sun as much as possible.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat for extra protection.
  1. Heat. Anything that raises your body temperature might be a rosacea trigger. You might want to take cooler baths and showers, for example. And water workouts can be a good way to exercise without overheating.

If possible, try to stay in a cool, air-conditioned spot on hot, humid days. And if you start to feel uncomfortably warm, drape a cold, wet cloth around your neck or sip a cool drink.

  1. Cold and wind. Chilly conditions can also cause problems for some people. On cold, windy days, try wearing a ski mask or wrapping a scarf around your cheeks and nose.
  2. Stress. Healthy habits—like exercise, good nutrition and plenty of sleep—can help keep stress at bay. Some people find deep breathing or visualization exercises helpful too. Find what works for you—and carve out time to do it every day. Here are 20 quick tension tamers that may help in a pinch.
  3. Food and drink. Spicy foods, hot drinks and alcohol are common culprits. You might need to steer clear of seasonings such as red pepper, paprika and cayenne—and avoid drinks that cause flare-ups.
  4. Skin-care products. If it stings, burns or makes you flush, avoid it. Common problem ingredients include alcohol, witch hazel, menthol, peppermint and eucalyptus oil. When possible, go for fragrance-free products.
  5. Medicines. Some of these may cause flushing. If you notice problems when you take medicines for high blood pressure, anxiety, migraines or glaucoma, for example, ask your doctor if it’s possible to try a different drug.

Find a dermatologist

If you’re living with rosacea, a dermatologist can create a customized treatment plan to help control your symptoms. Find an Adventist Health doctor near you.

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