6 rosacea skin care tips dermatologists give their patients
Even if you’re already treating your rosacea, the right skin care can make a noticeable difference.
A rosacea friendly skin care routine can:
- Help your skin feel more comfortable
- Improve the results you see from treatment
- Boost your skin’s overall health
- Reduce rosacea flare-ups
To help patients who have rosacea with skin care, dermatologists offer these tips:
- Cleanse your face twice a day — very gently. According to dermatologist Mark Dahl, MD, patients who have rosacea often don’t wash rosacea-prone skin enough. That’s understandable if your skin already feels irritated.
Cleansing when you wake up and before you go to bed helps remove oil and dirt that can irritate your skin.
To cleanse without further irritating your skin, dermatologists recommend that you:
- Choose a mild, rosacea friendly cleanser (not soap).
- Apply the cleanser gently with your fingertips, using a circular motion.
- Rinse off the cleanser with lukewarm water, using only your fingertips. You want to thoroughly remove the cleanser. If some of the cleanser stays on your skin, it can cause irritation.
- Pat your face gently with a clean, cotton towel.
2. Moisturize every day. Whether rosacea makes your skin dry or oily, it’s important to moisturize. Moisturizing helps hydrate your skin by trapping water in your skin. This can reduce irritation and make your skin feel more comfortable.
Studies show that applying a rosacea friendly moisturizer or barrier repair cream can also improve the results you see from treatment.
In one small study, patients applied a rosacea treatment (metronidazole gel) to their face twice a day. They also applied a gentle, non-irritating moisturizing cream twice a day to one side of their face.
After 15 days, the moisturized side of their face had less dryness, peeling, and roughness. It also felt more comfortable. Other studies have found similar results.
3. Protect your skin from the sun year round. The sun can worsen rosacea. This is so common that it’s actually one of the most frequent causes of a rosacea flare-up. Even people with dark skin can have a rosacea flare-up after being outdoors in the sun.
To reduce rosacea flare-ups caused by the sun, dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen. To protect your skin, apply a sunscreen to your face every day before going outdoors. Even on cloudy days, it helps to apply sunscreen.
How to choose rosacea friendly sunscreen
Finding a sunscreen that won’t irritate your sensitive skin can be a challenge. Dermatologists recommend that you look for a sunscreen with:
- Zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both
- Silicone (may be listed as dimethicone, orcyclomethicone, or cyclomethicone)
- No fragrance (label may say “fragrance free,” but if it says “unscented” choose another sunscreen)
- Broad-spectrum protection
- SPF 30 or higher
4. Choose rosacea friendly skin care products. When you have rosacea, many skin care products and cosmetics can irritate your skin. While gentle cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection can help reduce this sensitivity, you also want to choose your skin care products and makeup carefully.
When shopping for products, dermatologists recommend that you read the list of ingredients before you buy. To reduce the likelihood of a buying a product that will irritate your skin, you want to avoid anything that contains:
- Glycolic acid
- Lactic acid
- Sodium laurel sulfate (often found in shampoos and toothpaste)
To reduce the chance of a product irritating your skin, choose fragrance-free (rather than unscented) products.
To reduce irritation, it’s also best to:
- Choose a cream instead of a lotion or gel
- Never use an astringent or toner
5. Test skin care products and makeup before applying them to your face. If you’ve never tried a product or it seems that everything you apply to your face stings, testing can help. To test a product, dab a small amount near (but not on) your rosacea-prone skin. If it irritates your skin (burning, stinging, etc.) within 72 hours, you know not to use it.
6. Be gentle with your skin. Anything that irritates your skin can worsen rosacea. To prevent this, you want to avoid rubbing or scrubbing your face. That means no washcloths, facial sponges, or exfoliating.
Making these tips a part of your skin care routine can help you take better care of your rosacea-prone skin.
If you have trouble finding skin care products or makeup that doesn’t irritate your skin, a dermatologist can assist you. A dermatologist can examine your skin and recommend products for your skin’s specific needs.
American Academy of Dermatology. “Proper skin care lays the foundation for successful acne and rosacea treatment.” News release issued August 1, 2013. Last accessed July 31, 2017.
Bowers J. “Unlocking the mysteries of rosacea.” Dermatol World. 2013;23(8):18-22.
Del Rosso JQ, Thiboutot D, et al. “Consensus recommendations from the American Acne & Rosacea Society on the management of rosacea, part 1: A status report on the disease state, general measures, and adjunctive skin care.” Cutis. 2013;92(5):234-40.
Pelle MT, Crawford GH, et al. “Rosacea: II. Therapy.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004;51:499-512.
Two AM, Wu W, et al. “Rosacea: part II. Topical and systemic therapies in the treatment of rosacea.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2015;72(5):761-70.
Zip C. “The role of skin care in optimizing treatment of acne and rosacea.” Skin Therapy Lett. 2017;22(3):5-7.