person applying face cream in mirror
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Rosacea is a chronic condition that typically causes facial skin, especially around the cheeks, to blush or flush more easily.

Along with the skin problems, you can also see blood vessels, as well as swelling, and textural changes to your skin.

People living with rosacea may have a hard time building an effective skin care routine because this condition can make your skin more sensitive to many common ingredients, says Jeffrey Hsu, MD, a board certified dermatologist and founder of Oak Dermatology.

Since the skin of people with the condition can experience stinging and burning sensations, it is possible that certain skin care ingredients may cause irritation.

The best way to manage and improve the condition is to work with a dermatologist.

  • Identifying your problem
  • A skin care regimen is tailored to your symptoms and skin type.
  • If necessary, prescription medication treatment.

“If you don’t have the chance to see a doctor, you might have some questions about caring for your skin. The guide below can help you with your skin care routine.”

There is no cure for the condition, but the right skin care products can help.

If you remove ingredients that cause flare-ups from your routine, you can see improvements to your skin.

Not only that, but after eliminating products with harsh ingredients, you can replace them with products that boost hydration and strengthen your skin barrier — two things particularly important in rosacea treatment, according to Cybele Fishman, MD, a board certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC.

Not taking care of your skin — which could mean under- or over-washing, neglecting to moisturize, or skipping sunscreen — can make rosacea worse, says Michele Green, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist in private practice.

It’s also important to consider your skin type when creating a custom skin care routine.

Green and Hsu offer some basic tips for each skin type.

Oily skin

Get more skin care tips for oily skin.

Dry skin

  • Use a cleanser with cool or warm water.
  • You should moisturize at least two times per day.
  • Opt for a moisturizer with humectant ingredients, like glycerin, tremella extract, and hyaluronic acid.

Get more skin care tips.

Sensitive skin

  • Choose a cleanser specifically formulated for sensitive skin.
  • Do not wash with hot water.
  • Apply and distribute cleanser with your hands.

Get more skin care tips.

Skin care products with certain ingredients may help calm and relieve the symptoms of the rosacea.

  • Azelaic acid. This naturally occurring acid has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it helpful for calming rosacea flare-ups and treating severe acne, says Emily Wood, MD, a board certified dermatologist with Westlake Dermatology.
  • Niacinamide. This B vitamin may help reduce redness and inflammation, says Green, while also helping strengthen your skin’s protective barrier and keep it hydrated. If you have oily skin, note that niacinamide can also help regulate oil production and minimize the appearance of pores.
  • Alpha arbutin. This naturally occurring antioxidant is known for brightening skin, and Wood says it can help even out skin tone and improve discoloration.
  • Ceramides. Wood highly recommends looking for moisturizers with ceramides, fatty acids that can help your skin retain moisture.
  • Aloe. Aloe may have a temporary calming and soothing effect during a flare-up, says Green, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Bisabolol. This active ingredient, which comes from the chamomile flower, may helpreduce redness and irritation during a flare-up, according to Hsu.
  • Acetyl tetrapeptide-40. This peptide can reduce inflammation and redness while boosting skin barrier function, says Hsu.
  • Camellia sinensis leaf extract. This extract, which comes from tea leaves, may protect the skin from sun damage while fighting inflammation, says Hsu. It can also reduce oil production.

If you have a suspicion of having a condition called rosacea, you may want to avoid skin care products with ingredients that are related to it.

These ingredients can make your skin more sensitive.

According to Wood, retinoids like tretinoin may also worsen rosacea, causing increased skin dryness, flakiness, and discoloration. It’s always a good idea to check with a dermatologist before using retinoids.

What about CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted from the cannabis plant, has also drawn attention as a potentially beneficial skin care ingredient, mainly due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Authors of a 2020 review acknowledged that CBD may prove helpful for strengthening the skin barrier, which is impaired in most people with rosacea. To date, though, not much research has explored the benefits of applying CBD topically.

More studies are needed to confirm whether or notCannabidiol can help treat the symptoms of the skin condition, rosacea.

Wood and Green say that there are signs that a skin care product is making your skinnier.

  • swelling
  • Increased redness.
  • facial hair
  • A burning sensation when you apply the product.
  • The bumps look like they are from a skin condition.

Whenever you introduce a new product into your routine, dermatologists strongly recommend doing a patch test first to check how your skin reacts.

How to do a patch test

Green suggests some steps.

  • If you want to apply a dime-sized amount of the product to your neck, you should do it once or twice a day.
  • If you have a negative reaction to your skin over the next 24 hours, you should observe it.
  • For a week, repeat this process every day.
  • “If your skin doesn’t show any signs of irritation after a week of using the product, it’s probably safe to use.”

Important: “An allergic reaction might take a few days to develop and it’s important to be thorough, especially when it comes to rosacea or sensitive skin,” says Green. “If you experience any irritation, wash the product off as soon as possible and discontinue all further use.”

“patch testing doesn’t offer a failproof way to test for sensitivity The skin on your face may react differently to a product if you don’t have a reaction in a patch test.”

The skin on the face is thinner and more sensitive than the skin on the body, like the inner arm where most patch testing is done, says Green. patch testing is still a great way to determine if a skin care product will cause a reaction.

“patch testing can help identify allergies, but it doesn’t always identify all possible reactions.”

Fishman says that a negative patch test can be used to see if an ingredient is irritation.

The dermatologists agree that less is more when it comes to caring for skin with a lot of redness.

Using too many products, products with too many ingredients, or washing your face too frequently can all damage your skin.

The tips offer a place to start.

  • Aim to cleanse your face twice a day, Green recommends.
  • Fishman recommends washing with water in the morning and using a cleanser at night if you have dry skin.
  • If you want to use a cleanser instead of an abrasive washcloth, rub it into your face with your fingertips.
  • Avoid using toner or astringent, says Fishman. These products usually contain Alcohol., acids, and other ingredients that can increase sensitivity and dryness.
  • After cleansing, always follow up with a moisturizer. Green says a vitamin C serum can be helpful in the morning for brightening and evening out skin tone — just opt for a weaker formulation to avoid irritation. A richer moisturizing cream, like one containing hyaluronic acid, may be best for night, Green recommends.

Remember, sunscreen is essential

Sunscreen is a must for everyone. But if you have rosacea, you’ll want to take particular care to apply (and reapply) sunscreen each and every day.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, just several minutes of sunlight exposure can trigger redness and flushing.

Green recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Mineral-based sunscreens, like those with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, are less likely to cause irritation than chemical sunscreens.

There is a difference between physical and chemical sunscreens.

What to avoid if you have rosacea

A 2020 study considered 2,783 Chinese participants: 1,245 with rosacea and 1,538 without rosacea.

The study authors found that certain habits were related to the development of the skin condition.

  • excessive face washing.
  • using a facial mask more than four times a week
  • Wearing makeup more than six times a week.
  • Having in-salon or spa treatments more than once a week.

The study focused on skin care practices that could lead to the condition, but these habits could also lead to more symptoms.

It is not always possible to manage your symptoms on your own.

Wood recommends connecting with a board certified dermatologist if you notice your symptoms getting worse even after you make changes to your skin care routine.

A dermatologist can offer more support.

  • Identifying symptoms of a skin condition.
  • Identifying possible causes.
  • determining if prescription drugs can help control the redness of the skin.

Learn more about the job of a dermatologists.

Telehealth for rosacea

Many dermatologists have adopted telemedicine platforms to better serve people searching for more accessible healthcare options.

Your insurance may cover a virtual visit, says Hsu, but if it doesn’t, or you don’t have insurance, some dermatologists offer a reasonable out-of-pocket cost for a consultation.

Building an effective skin care regimen is the first step in managing rosacea. If you want to keep your routine simple, use a gentle cleanser once or twice a day, apply a SPF 30 sunscreen, and follow up with a hydrating balm.

“As you adjust to your new skin care routine, pay attention to your symptoms of rosacea. If they don’t improve within 2 to 4 weeks, consulting a dermatologist is a good next step.”

Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based writer who writes about health and fitness, food, lifestyle, and beauty. Her work has appeared in a number of publications.