Far from just rosy cheeks, rosacea is a relatively common but uncomfortable skin issue. But the signs can often be missed, meaning it can be difficult to treat. And while there’s no cure, there are some clear cut dos and don’ts, which should see your skin looking and feeling healthier. So, what helps rosacea? Read on for the deets…
What Helps Rosacea? The Dos and Don'ts
What is rosacea?
Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s a good idea to take a look at what exactly rosacea is. We have a great article by the wonderful Dr Harmony, covering this but, in summary, she explains, “Rosacea (roe-ZAY-she-uh) is a common, long-term, inflammatory skin condition, mainly affecting the centre of the face. It causes redness and visible blood vessels in the skin, as well as small, red pus-filled bumps. These bumps can get worse over weeks or months, and then improve and disappear for some time.”
You might be wondering, “do I have rosacea?” Well, a common sign, aside from redness, is a burning or stinging discomfort when you get water or certain types of skincare on the affected area. And, as Dr Harmony points out, you might also find you have “dry, swollen skin, with patches of dusky brown discolouration.” It’s also not uncommon to mistake rosacea for acne, due to similar looking breakouts. There’s so much to contend with! So, what can you do - and not do - to improve rosacea? While there’s no known cure, as such, there are some handy rosacea dos and don’ts to follow. Let’s take a look…
What should you do if you have rosacea?
1) Wear SPF everyday!
If you have rosacea, the last thing you want to do is further damage your skin - which, let’s face it, can happen due to a number of factors. The sun, the environment, UV… the list goes on. But a great way to protect it is by wearing a high SPF sunscreen of AT LEAST 30 every day. Even if it’s a rainy day. Even if you don’t go outside. Slather it on. Because if you have windows in your house/flat/other or you watch TV or sit in front of a laptop or phone, you need SPF. Do your research and look for a good one that’s perfect for sensitive skin. Your favourite skin expert should be able to help you out with getting the right one for you.
2) Avoid hot conditions
Ugh! I know - this one’s a tough one if you’ve booked a holiday or live in a warmer climate, but if you have rosacea, one of the best things you can do for your skin is to try to avoid heat, sunlight and humidity. This can mean a whole host of situations, like saunas, hot baths and hot, sunny or humid places. Obviously, this isn’t always possible, and don’t ditch that once in a lifetime trip to The Maldives if it comes up, but just try to minimise the amount of time spent in these kinds of conditions. When it comes to baths and washing, keep water lukewarm as opposed to hot. This will make your skin much happier.
3) Cover your face in cold weather
Ok, so we’ve talked about protecting your face in hot weather, but it’s just as important, with rosacea, to protect your skin in cold weather too. Give your skin that extra bit of coverage by using your coat collar or a soft scarf pulled up around the affected area to keep it out of the direct cold. On cold days, also consider wearing layers rather than big heavy items of clothing, so that if you do become too hot, you can easily remove a layer or two, without causing problems for your skin.
4) Use gentle skincare products
One place where people often trip up when it comes to rosacea is that they try to rub or scrub the area too rigorously, or use products that are just way too harsh in an attempt to get rid of it - only to end up making it worse. Try using gentle skincare products instead, specifically those for sensitive skin. And try a nice hydrating moisturiser, even if you’re worried about it making your skin oilier. Ingredients to avoid when you have rosacea? Fragranced products and those containing alcohol should be no-gos. As should soap, which just dries skin out. Not sure which skincare products are right for you? Glowday lists thousands of skincare experts who will be able to point you in the right direction and tell you which ones to avoid like the plague.
5) Clean eyelids at least once a day
If you have blepharitis (an inflammation of the eyelids, and a common component of rosacea), you’ll want to make sure that you are cleaning your eyelids at least once a day. This is to wash away irritating substances so they don’t cause even more problems.
6) Manage stress
I know. Easier said than done, but stress can cause rosacea flare ups, so it’s helpful to at least try to take steps to manage stress. Reading, adult colouring books (hell, kids’ colouring books if you like), yoga, meditation, breathing techniques. Whatever works for you to get you and your skin feeling calm.
What shouldn’t you do if you have rosacea?
1) Minimise your alcohol intake
Sorry - don’t shoot the messenger - but alcohol is a major factor when it comes to rosacea flare ups, so it’s best to avoid it, where possible. Forget the dreaded hangover, alcohol will only end up making your skin feel very unhappy, so it’s ultimately not worth it.
2) Avoid hot drinks
While a hot drink might feel like a bit of a creature comfort, if you have rosacea, it’s absolutely not a comfort to your skin. Instead of making a boiling hot drink, have a warm one instead to try and keep flushing to a minimum.
3) Cut out caffeine
Another thing that rosacea really doesn’t get on well with is caffeine, as it too can lead to flare ups. So, cutting out coffee, tea and chocolate can be a very good thing as far as your skin’s concerned.
4) Turn down the spice
Spicy food is another contributing factor to rosacea flare ups, so avoiding hot, spicy foods is something else you can do to improve your rosacea-prone skin.
5) Minimise aerobic exercise
Some of you will be cheering at this, while others will be shaking your heads in disappointment, but if you have rosacea, it’s best to keep aerobic exercise, like running, to a minimum. It’s like we were saying earlier - overheating can lead to more rosacea problems, so keeping as cool as you can is vital. Obviously, exercise is important and you’ll likely still want to incorporate it into your daily life, but find something that’s kinder to your skin and it’ll thank you.
6) No cheese, please!
I know - yet more bad news for some of you, but cheese is another one of those products that makes rosacea symptoms worse for those living with it. This is because cheese and other dairy items like yoghurt are inflammatory foods that can lead to redness. So, cutting them out will help in keeping redness to a minimum.
So, while some of these rosacea dos and don’ts might come as a bit of a disappointment, they should, all together, help reduce symptoms and help improve the look and feel of your skin. And if your skin’s happier, you’re happier, right?
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