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Eight tips for avoiding rosacea flares

The Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada ( has designated April as Rosacea Awareness Month to raise awareness about rosacea, which affects more than 3 million Canadians.

In the spirit of awareness, this article includes eight tips from The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) on how patients with rosacea, in addition to seeing a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment, can help avoid flares of the skin condition through identifying and avoiding triggering conditions.

“Rosacea makes the skin extremely sensitive, and as a result, many things—what we call triggers—can make the condition worse,” said board-certified dermatologist Dr. Arielle N.B. Kauvar of the AAD, in a press release.

She tells patients: “Although triggers can vary from one person to the next, a good way to help pinpoint your triggers is to keep a journal of the things you eat and drink, the personal care products you use, and the things you’re exposed to that could cause your rosacea to flare. Once you have identified your triggers, it’s important to avoid them to prevent flare-ups.”

Dr. Kauvar recommended these tips:

1. Protect the skin from the sun. Sun exposure is one of the most common causes of rosacea flare-ups. Even people with dark skin tones can have a flare-up after being outdoors in the sun. To protect their skin, individuals can seek shade and wear protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with ultraviolet (UV) protection, whenever possible. In addition, they should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin every day they are going to be outside. The sunscreen should be fragrance-free, and contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as they are least likely to irritate sensitive skin.

2. Minimize stress. If stress causes a person's rosacea to flare, they may try to find an activity that helps relieve their stress, and engage in that activity often. Common outlets for stress include exercise, meditation, tai chi or joining a rosacea support group.

3. Avoid overheating—even during exercise. Warm, rather than hot baths or showers are recommended, and individuals should sit far enough away from fireplaces, heaters and other heat sources that they do not feel the direct warmth. Supplies for cooling, such as a chilled water bottle or a damp towel for the neck should be available during physical exercise. Dressing in layers is also recommended so excess clothing can be removed.

4. Simplify the skin care routine. As many skin care products are too harsh for people with rosacea, when shopping for skin care products, individuals with the condition should look for mild, gentle formulas made for sensitive skin. Skin care products that contain menthol, camphor, sodium lauryl sulfate and alcohol should be avoided, as these can trigger flares. Products that contain retinoids can irritate the skin and may need to be avoided or used less frequently. The skin should also be treated gently, and not rubbed, scrubbed, or scraped.

5. Mild foods. Since spicy foods often trigger rosacea symptoms, individuals should opt for milder versions of their favorite dishes. If their rosacea still flares, it would be best to avoid spicy foods altogether.

6. Opt for cold beverages. Studies show that the heat from hot beverages can cause some people’s rosacea to flare. Iced coffee or tea are alternatives, or beverages can be allowed to cool first before consumption.

7. Limit alcohol. When it comes to flare-ups from alcohol, red wine may be the biggest culprit. For individuals who choose to drink, they should consider beverages other than red wine, and limit their intake to one or two drinks with a cold glass of water in between.

8. Protect the face from wind and cold. Wearing a scarf is a great option for protecting skin against the elements. The best choices are scarves made of silk or acrylic, avoiding wool and other rough-feeling fabrics, as these can trigger a flare-up.

“Without treatment, rosacea symptoms can worsen and include permanent redness, visible blood vessels, burning and stinging, and acne-like breakouts,” Dr. Kauvar said. “That’s why it’s important to see a dermatologist for treatment, as well as understand what causes your condition to flare and avoid those triggers.”

These tips are also included in this video from the AAD:

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