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How to help rosacea

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Rosacea is an inflammatory disease of the face and upper part of the body. Small blood vessels, capillaries that supply the skin with nutrients and oxygen become inflamed, causing general skin reddening and inflammation. If untreated, rosacea will progress to form “acne” - papules and pustules. Oil-producing glands on the nose can become inflamed, resulting in a characteristically red nose.

Rosacea affects mostly people of middle and older age. In general, rosacea skin is more sensitive to treatment than, for example, acne skin so it is essential to employ a holistic approach in treatment.

Learn what your triggers are to control rosacea flare-ups

Rosacea flare-ups can be caused either by environmental or lifestyle triggers. It is essential to determine the precise triggers or your causes of rosacea flare-ups as then you will be able to avoid or alleviate them.

The triggers may be difficult to pinpoint as rosacea may have different causes. An excellent way to learn about your rosacea is to write a short lifestyle diary. At the end of each day, you will note:

  • The outside temperature and wind strength
  • How much sun are you getting
  • What type of physical activity you’ve had and for how long
  • The food you’ve had
  • Your skincare regime paying particular attention to the new skincare and bath products.

After you have several flare-ups, you will be able to find a common element and eliminate it.

The best products for rosacea and ways to control flare-ups is to determine their cause(s) and then avoid them. In the meanwhile, use prophylactic measures such as regular probiotics and soothing skincare regime. Avoid strenuous exercise, especially on hot days and hot baths.

Common rosacea triggers


Drinking alcohol widens the blood vessels including the capillaries. This is why after consuming alcohol people experience rosacea-like symptoms e.g. skin gets hot. When the alcohol gets detoxicated, the blood vessels go back to normal. Alcohol can trigger rosacea and when the blood vessels will stay wider it produces the so-called spider veins.

Hot baths and showers

Hot baths and showers raise the temperature of the body one of the mechanisms to get rid of the excessive body temperature is to widen blood vessels. This increases blood circulation and heat exchange with the environment. The wider blood vessels cause redening of the skin and can become inflamed.

Hot and cold weather conditions

Human organisms maintain the same temperature in a range of conditions. One of the ways the bodymaintains core temperature is by regulating heat exchange through the skin. In hot weather, blood vessels widen increasing blood flow which causes increased heat exchange with the environment. On the contrary, in cold weather, the exposed skin vessels narrow down regulating the heat exchange. As a result, both hot and cold weather put a strain on the skin blood vessels and may trigger rosacea.

Humid weather

During humid weather heat exchange slows down because it slows sweat evaporation. This is why subjective temperature feels more extreme if the humidity is high. The organisms strain trying to regulate heat exchange. Humid weather may trigger rosacea.


Apart from causing high temperatures, sun damages skin via UV light which candamage the skin and cause skin inflammation and trigger rosacea.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety cause production of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn causes an increase in general inflammation. whichcan cause rosacea flare ups. Frequent flares can lead to the exacerbation of rosacea.


Menopause can trigger rosacea in one of two ways (or both). On one hand, winding down female hormone production causes dysregulation of heat exchange and hot flasheswhich can trigger rosacea.

Secondly, stress, anxiety and other mental health problems common during menopause can also lead to rosacea.

Avoid rubbing your skin

Rubbing skin causes its irritation and switches on defenses such as the immune system. Rubbing skin is a trigger for skin inflammation that can trigger rosacea. If you have sensitive skin, you need to avoid rubbing your skin, especially by using exfoliators or washcloths.

Avoid products that dry the skin

Similarly to exfoliators, skin products can cause rosacea. Products that dry the skin, for example, or contain salicylic acid will irritate the skin which can lead to inflammation which can trigger rosacea. If a product causes symptoms of rosacea, immediately discontinue using it. The skin will not “get used to it”, on the contrary, its condition will become worse.


In general, physical activity is good for your wellbeing in general and your skin. however strenuous exercise can trigger rosacea. mall muscle tears inevitable during this type of exercise give the immune system signals for repair causing inflammation. The body also has to reduce body heat by widening the blood vessels causing redness.

What not to eat when you have rosacea?

More and more research shows that there is a direct link between our gut and general inflammation. Rosacea is one of the conditions where this link is quite clear.

Rosacea is an inflammatory disease. Therefore, all foods that are not easy to digest or encourage general inflammation will be detrimental for rosacea. In general, high-fat, high-sugar diet that is typical for fast food, and certain types of takeaway food triggers inflammation.

The human organism has an adaptation to a diet rich in plant food and plant oils. The constant abundance of animal fat, meat, and refined sugar is a relatively recent addition to the menu. That’s why an excess of these types of food will trigger general inflammation and rosacea.

Apart from fat, some food compounds are potent triggers of rosacea because they also cause inflammation:

  • All types of pepper
  • Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, mustard, horseradish
  • Spicy foods in general.

Temperature change often triggers rosacea. It’s no wonder then that hot drinks can cause rosacea. Especially if the drinks contain caffeine, but it’s better to avoid caffeine even in cold drinks such as coke and cold-brew coffee.

Alcohol dilates blood vessels. Regular alcohol consumption causes inflammation. Alcohol is one of the main types of drink to avoid if you have rosacea.

What is the best diet for rosacea?

If proinflammatory food is detrimental for rosacea, anti-inflammatory food is recommended to alleviate the condition. The Mediterranean diet that avoids animal fat using olive oil is good for rosacea. This diet also includes oily fish shown to regulate skin cells turnover, as well as green leafy vegetables such as spinach and different types of salad.

Probiotics - fermented food - can supplement the Mediterranian diet. Probiotics can be milk-based (yogurt, kefir, soured cream) or plant-based. Plant-based fermented food includes sauerkraut and pickled (not just salted) vegetables and kombucha tea. However, these mustn't be spicy as spices trigger rosacea. Thus German-style sauerkraut is beneficial, while Korean-style kimchi is not.

Does drinking water help rosacea?

Drinking plenty of water will ensure that your body isn’t overheated and stressed. High temperatures and stress are two of the main causes of rosacea so drinking plenty of water will help to control rosacea symptoms.

Treating common rosacea symptoms

What helps rosacea redness? How to stop rosacea flushing?

Sudden skin redness or flushing is the first sign of rosacea. Removal of the cause will reduce it. For example, if the flare caused by an embarrassing social situation, a brief meditation will help to reduce the stress level and in turn, to subside the redness. If the redness is caused by temperature or exercise going into an air-conditioned building will help.

Redness that is caused by food or drink is more challenging to control. Drink plenty of water as it will help to flush spices and alcohol from the body. Avoid the ingredients that caused redness in the future - treat them as you would have treated a cause of allergy.

How to stop rosacea itching

Places of rosacea flare-ups can be itchy because the inflammation irritates skin receptors. In this case, it’s possible to use over the counter preparations that contain soothing ingredients. A mild cleanser and a moisturiser applied at least twice daily can help relieve itching. Both cleanser and moisturiser should not contain irritating components such as sodium dodecyl sulfate.

The main types of compounds that help for itching are:

  • Occlusives (mineral oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, silicone derivatives) form a layer on the skin surface that retards the evaporation of water. Important to use for rosacea treatment because rosacea skin is often dry.
  • Humectants (lactic acid, tartaric acid, glycerin) increase skin hydration by attracting and holding water.
  • Emollients (lanolin, soy sterol, and sunflower seed oil) designed to make the skin feel and appear smooth.

How to reduce spider veins

Spider veins are red and blue small blood vessels (capillaries) that are visible through the skin. Spider veins are one of the rosacea symptoms. To reduce spider veins avoid rosacea flares (see above). A healthy diet and controlled weight reduction can also reduce spider veins appearance. Good skin care is also a must for the reduction of spider veins.

However, the number of spider veins increases with age. At some point, natural treatment may not be enough. You can consider cosmetic procedures such as surface treatment with laser or pulsed light as well as radiofrequency occlusion. Collapsing spider veins with electric impulses (electrocautery) is yet another way to get rid of spider veins.

How to treat rosacea spots and pimples

Permanent rosacea spots and pimples mean an advanced degree of rosacea. If treating rosacea naturally doesn’t help, it’s possible to try some medications. Antibiotics such as tetracycline and sometimes derivatives of erythromycin can be prescribed. They reduce general inflammation and alleviate rosacea.

Other standard rosacea treatments include metronidazole, azelaic acid, and sulfacetamide-sulfur formulations.

How to reduce swelling from rosacea

Face swelling is a frequent symptom of rosacea. There are several ways to reduce swelling:

  • Use topical products that contain azelaic acid.
  • Applying products that contain an active ingredient brimonidine. An example of a product with brimonidine is gel Mirvaso.

There are also more systemic treatments such as taking a prescription course of antibiotics or vitamin A derivatives. However, the significant improvement in swelling is not instantaneous.

How to reduce dry rough skin

Rosacea is a skin condition that leads to dry, uneven, rough skin. To smooth the dry patches, skincare regime should promote skin cells regeneration and growth. It’s crucial to protect skin from the UV damage by always using sunblock.

Gentle cleansing at least twice a day should not use a washcloth or any mechanical aid to exfoliate. A gentle cleanser, moisturiser, and nourishing cream that support skin renewal are vital. Sond cleanser and a day cream will help you to reduce dry rough skin.

What is the best makeup to cover rosacea?

Because rosacea symptoms affect visible skin, especially on the face, it can harm confidence and self-esteem. In turn, this increases social anxiety and stress levels leading to worsening of rosacea symptoms.

Using makeup to cover rosacea is a relatively easy way to mask rosacea symptoms. The additional benefit of makeup is that it will reduce your skin exposure to UV that ages skin.

Rosacea Foundation recommends using a green-tinted base as it will visually compensate for the excess redness in the skin tone. Use oil-free foundation in the skin tone that matches your natural skin tone. Concealer should be one shade lighter. It’s important to have UV protection ingredients in your makeup.

What is a good foundation for rosacea

A good foundation for rosacea does not contain irritants and has ingredients that help rosacea skin. UV protection is a must. Vitamins A and C are helpful, as well as aloe and alpha-lipoic acid. 

How to apply makeup to cover rosacea

Makeup is a useful tool to mask the rosacea symptoms. But makeup application and the makeup itself mustn't get rosacea worse. Follow these simple steps for successful makeup application:

  • Before applying makeup, cleanse, and moisturise your skin using your usual products. The preparation stage will not only help your skin but will make makeup more stable.
  • Prior to using any makeup product, test it on an invisible area od skin, for example, your arm area covered by clothes. Wait 24 hours after application. Any stinging or burning sensation, as well as any worsening of rosacea symptoms, means that you cannot use the product.
  • The fewer product you use, the smaller is the chance of skin irritation. It's a good idea to use products with combined function, such as moisturiser that has a hint of colour and contains UV protection.
  • To avoid skin irritation and contamination, do not use your fingertips or sponges to apply makeup. Use an antibacterial brush and apply the makeup lightly. Use broad strokes for large areas and edge of the brush for narrow areas such as the nose. Clean brush between uses.
  • If you use a brush, apply a small amount of liquid foundation to your wrist. Dab the brush and smooth over the face from center and moving outwards.
  • Cream or powder foundation is swept across the surface of the compact and applied to the face using a minimal number of strokes.
  • Use extra-gentle dermatologically approved eye makeup that can be removed using water. Do not rub or tug on your eyes. Avoid false eyelashes as they can further irritate eyes.


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Vaughn AR et al. (2019) Dietary supplementation with turmeric polyherbal formulation decreases facial redness: a randomized double-blind controlled pilot study. J Integr Med. 17(1):20-23. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2018.11.004.

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Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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