Proper skin care can help prevent that common rosacea symptom, red skin. The right approach to daily skin care is the key to controlling your rosacea.
Because rosacea can leave your skin inflamed and extremely sensitive, rosacea care requires patience and a gentle touch. Good skin care can help alleviate even your worst rosacea symptoms while improper skin care can worsen the disease.
The problem is in the stratum corneum, the topmost layer of skin. Rosacea patients have a fragile stratum corneum, which means that scrubbing and harsh cleansers will make matters worse.
"The word is 'gently.' I always tell my patients they should care for their skin like a fine silk scarf," says Zoe Diana Draelos, MD, clinical and research dermatologist in private practice in High Point, N.C. and consulting professor at Duke University in Durham, N.C. Her simple and straightforward advice: "Treat skin gently, use a mild cleanser, let it air dry, don't scrub, and don't pull or stretch."
Skin Care Products to Use — and Avoid
Start with the right cleanser. "A gentle foaming face wash is a good idea," Dr. Draelos says. "They contain synthetic detergents that provide a mild cleansing to the face."
Other cleansing options include a gentle but non-foaming face wash or a mild soap. Your cleanser should be fragrance-free, as fragrance can cause an allergic reaction, exacerbating your red skin and other rosacea symptoms.
Avoid all products with the potential to irritate the skin:
Alcohol-based products. These include drying agents like astringents and aftershave lotion. "When the skin gets dry, it gets very irritated," Draelos says. Witch hazel is another product that can cause drying.
Facial scrubs and exfoliators. Avoid those with ground fruit pits or nutshells in particular. "Those are designed to scrub away the top layer of skin and they can be very irritating," Draelos says.
Products with other potentially irritating ingredients. Menthol, camphor, sodium lauryl sulfate, peppermint, eucalyptus oil, clove oil, and salicylic acid all can cause irritation. Stop using any product that causes a stinging or burning feeling on your face, says Draelos.
Rosacea Skin Care Techniques
Use a gentle approach when you cleanse. "Suds up the foaming face wash on the hands, gently wash the face, then cup the hands and use lukewarm water to rinse the face," Draelos says.
After washing, blot your face almost dry with a thick cotton towel and allow it to completely air dry for 5 to 10 minutes before applying anything else to the skin. Skin is most absorbent when it is wet, and putting on medication ormakeup too soon can cause burning and irritation.
Other cleansing tips:
Don't use a washcloth. "You can scrub too hard with a washcloth, whereas with your hands you can feel how hard you're scrubbing," Draelos says.
Don't use hot or cold water. "Hot and cold water can make the face turn redder. You basically want your water at room temperature," adds Draelos.
More Rosacea Skin Care Tips
Your skin can be particularly sensitive to sun damage if you have rosacea, and sun exposure can cause rosacea flare-ups. Use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher whenever you're out and about. Be sure your sunscreen doesn't contain alcohol or fragrance. However, always put on yourrosacea medication before applying sunscreen or makeup to increase the medication’s effectiveness. Draelos also recommends using a wide-brimmed hat or considering staying out of the sun altogether.
Nurture your skin with a barrier-repair product. These creams and lotions can help repair damage done to the skin and help hold in moisture. Researchers have found that rosacea symptoms diminish in people who apply a barrier-repair emollient twice a day. Ask your dermatologist for a specific brand recommendation.
By pampering your complexion with tender, loving care, you can be very effective in managing your rosacea and feeling more comfortable in your skin.